32 Million From $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Headed Our Way
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
After a year of hemorrhaging losses, the Biden Stimulus Plan will make Otsego County government “whole,” according to County Treasurer Allen Ruffles.
“That’s what I would think,” Ruffles said, after reviewing the news he was planning to deliver when the county Board of Representatives met Wednesday, April 7, for its monthly meeting. “It would make us whole.”
In all, county government, towns, villages and school board are expecting about $32 million from President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID Stimulus Plan, signed into law March 11.
In January 2020, before the COVID-19 emergency, the county had put $4.8 million aside in savings. Soon, “that was gone, kaput,” he said. In the year since, the county gave up another $5.8 million in sales, occupancy and property taxes.
Total: $10.6 million. That means the so-called American Rescue Plan means the county will come out ahead by $400,000.
The county, through borrowing at record-low interest rates and fast-tracking road work, the one category still reimbursed by Albany – christened The Ruffles Plan – plus 50 FTE layoffs, avoided severe impacts.
The City of Oneonta is getting $1,530,000. Mayor Gary Herzig said “our first priority will be that our staffing be kept whole.” City Hall avoided layoffs, but “reorganization plans” that would have required new hires “to be at our best,” were put on hold, he said.
In addition to the county and city windfall, Otsego County’s towns will get $6,530,000 split among them, according to the latest lists Ruffles received from Congressman Antonio Delgado, D-19th, and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY. Both lists match, the treasurer said.
The biggest winners are the 13 school districts, which will share $12,994,000.
Half of the money is expected in July, and the other half in mid-2022.
The one question mark is how the towns will split federal largesse with the villages, since towns and villages share population, and Uncle Sam doesn’t want to pay the same populations twice.
In the Village of Cooperstown, for instance, people living east of the Susquehanna River are also in the Town of Middlefield; west of the Susquehanna, the Town of Otsego. Milford village residents also live in the Town of Milford.
Ruffles said the U.S. Treasury Department is working on a logarithm to apportion which town and village gets what.
Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch attended a March 23 Zoom briefing by Congressman Delgado, and said she estimates Cooperstown’s share of the town amounts will come to $240,000 over two years. However, she noted that the village has lost $800,000 in revenues during the pandemic.
“We didn’t rent Doubleday Field once last summer,” she said.