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Millions of dollars coming to counties in Finger Lakes: Administrators wait to see how it can be used

Local governments are going to benefit significantly from the latest COVID relief package signed into law by President Joe Biden.

It became law last week- and after months of requests for federal help to balance local municipal budgets- it was approved.

Here’s how the funding breakdown looks for counties in the Finger Lakes: Ontario County will get the largest chunk, coming in at $21.29 million in aid, Wayne receiving $17.5 million, Seneca getting $6.6 million, and Yates receiving $4.83 million.

There are only certain things that the money can be used for- like assisting in providing essential work, responding to the public health emergency, supporting government services affected by decreased revenues, and investment in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.

The uncertainty around restrictions is giving some administrators pause.

“Ontario County is encouraged by the passage of the most recent federal COVID stimulus package,” Ontario County Administrator Chris DeBolt told the Finger Lakes Times. “The bill represents a significant injection of financial support to many sectors of the economy as well as state and local governments. Ontario County is currently working with our state and federal partners to fully understand the various guidelines and rules attached to the funding. As we gain more clarity, the Ontario County Board of Supervisors will develop a plan to utilize these funds to maximize the local benefit.”

Meanwhile, Wayne County Administrator Rick House says that broadband investment is one area where he says they may use the funds. That said, Nonie Flynn, who serves as administrator in Yates County, said she’s waiting for further guidance on what’s considered ‘acceptable use’ for the funds.