Wayne County saw the handwriting on the wall when the Covid19 pandemic was first forming and prepared for the worst.
After all the hashing and politics on the federal level, New York State is receiving $23.8 billion dollars. State and Local Fiscal Relief Funds Provides a whopping $12.56 billion to the state, $6.14 billion to metro cities, $3.9 billion for counties, $825 million for small cities, towns and villages, with another $358 million for a New York State broadband program.
“After fighting this pandemic on the frontlines, New York’s counties and municipalities were loud and clear: they needed help and they needed it now to keep frontline workers on the job and prevent brutal service cuts. And today, to all towns, villages, cities, and counties throughout New York I say: help is on the way,” said Senator Schumer.
“The senator explained that the nation’s economic recovery depends on the survival of state and local governments, which have been forced to make substantial layoff across the nation as they struggle with revenue shortfalls caused by the COVID downturn. New York State lost billions of dollars in revenue compared to pre-pandemic years and counties and other municipalities across the state have already had to cut thousands of jobs due to massive budget shortfalls.
In addition to securing $150+ billion for New York in previous COVID relief bill negotiations, Schumer visited the Southern Tier and Western New York and pushed the previous administration to provide robust state and local aid that would benefit all Americans. After months of effort, the senator also successfully called for FEMA to provide 100% cost sharing to New York state, delivering billions more for the state to cover costs related to the pandemic.
According to Wayne County Administrator Rick House, the County share of the pie is $17.575 million dollars. “We are going to do due diligence with the federal funds. We are not going on a drunken spending spree.”
The County anticipated a loss in sales tax revenues last Spring, but since Wayne County is not a ‘brick and mortar’ municipality with large shopping malls and cities, residents almost immediately picked up the slack after the April/May decrease with internet/online shopping. “We actually increased our sales tax predictions by four million more that we budgeted,” said House.
Wayne County also saved $4.3 million by freezing hiring of over 60 positions, cutting salary and benefits, only filling legally required positions.
The county also set aside $5 million in three different reserve accounts. “We’re actually in better shape than prior to Covid. The County is in good financial shape,” added the County Administrator.
Another plus for planning ahead came when the County eliminated the sales tax break on clothing purchases up to $110 for individuals.
House and the County are using the federal funds to prepare for anticipated cuts in the near future, including the loss of $1 million annually in tobacco reparations in 2023.
The County is also preparing for the 2024 decision on the County Health Services Building, owned by the Town of Lyons and currently leased to the County. House pointed out that a loss of revenue from the Ginna Nuclear facility agreement, located on the shores of Lake Ontario, in the Town of Ontario in 2029 is also a factor in future planning.
The County Administrator indicated long term planning on county infrastructure, including broadband, something House hopes the County can work with the towns and villages.
The County Administrator, along with County Treasurer Patrick Schmitt, are meeting with the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, March 16, to discuss long term planning.
The chart below shows an additional output of an estimated $20,122,855 funding for Wayne County towns and Villages. In total local municipalities are estimated to receive $37,698,193.
House hoped talks with the towns and villages would progress on ways to partner with the County in building infrastructure, especially in broadband.