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How counties in the Finger Lakes are using their COVID relief funds

Counties and municipalities across the Finger Lakes region are deciding how to use their allocation of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

The APRA is meant to help communities across the U.S. recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Treasury recently expanded guidelines for how the funds can be used, allowing more room for local governments to put the money towards a broad scope of projects and initiatives.

Related: American Rescue Plan Act: What does it mean for local governments?

How is ARPA money being used in the Finger Lakes?

In Livingston and Wayne counties, network and cybersecurity projects are the top initial expenditures, according to Democrat & Chronicle. Additionally, the Wayne County Board of Supervisors recently approved a resolution offering stipends to full and part-time employees (not including duly-elected officials).

Seneca County opted to put its ARPA money towards accessibility improvements at the county courthouse complex in Ovid, which is colloquially known as the “Three Bears.” Additionally, the county has put a portion of the funds towards bridge and culvert upgrades on County Road 136 and nearby Lodi Point State Park, both of which suffered damage during the 2018 flooding event.

Yates County put its entire first round of funding towards the design and construction of a satellite public health office.

Ontario County’s largest commitment of ARPA funds so far is $874,000 in incentive payments for management staffers. The county is awarding a one-time bonus of $7,000 to managers who did not receive a raise last year. With a total award of $21.million, the county still has plenty of funds to put towards other projects and programs.

The City of Canandaigua received a total allotment of $1 million. The majority of that money- $740,000- will be put towards the city’s capital reserve funds. The rest will go towards water and sewer projects.

Related: After delay, Board of Supervisors approves stipends for Wayne County employees

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

When will ARPA funds be expended?

ARPA funds are distributed in two payments: one in late winter and one in the spring. Both of these payments are one-time only and will not reoccur. All ARPA funds are required to be committed by December 2024. All funds must be expended by December 2026.