Orleans, Niagara officials join Congressman in pressing state for local Covid-19 funding

Posted 29 October 2020 at 9:35 pm

Provided photo: U.S. Rep. Jacobs held a press conference this morning with NYS Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, Assemblyman Mike Norris, and Niagara and Orleans County Chairwomen Rebecca Wydysh and Lynne Johnson to discuss state and local Covid-19 aid funding.

Press Release, U.S. Rep. Chris Jacobs

Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) held a press conference this morning to highlight the critical need for additional state and local Covid-19 relief funding. He was joined by NYS Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, Assemblyman Mike Norris, Niagara County Legislature Chair Rebecca Wydysh, and Orleans County Legislature Chair Lynne Johnston.

“Our small rural governments are struggling and facing severe cuts to first responders, education, hospitals, and other critical services unless additional aid is provided to them,” Jacobs said. “I am working tirelessly to ensure they are supported, and that is why I proudly cosponsored the SMART Act to deliver $500 billion in relief, specifically $161 billion to county and municipal governments that have been hardest hit by Covid-19 revenue loss and expenses.”

“The state’s Division of Budget is currently withholding $3 billion in Covid-19 recovery funds, a third of which could be immediately distributed to the smaller counties of our state that did not receive assistance previously,” State Sen. Rob Ortt said. “By releasing this funding, the Governor could provide much-needed support to our counties, towns, villages, and cities, these counties and municipalities that are struggling to maintain vital services due to the economic impacts of the Covid pandemic.”

“I commend Congressman Jacobs for supporting the SMART Act to assist municipalities recover during Covid-19,” Assemblyman Michael J. Norris said. “It is very important that this proposal gets enacted to assist counties like Niagara and Orleans to directly receive funding to help taxpayers and small businesses rebuild.”

In NY-27, Monroe County and Erie County received CARES Act funding because they met the population threshold of over 500,000 residents. With this funding these counties were able to launch programs to aid towns and small businesses.

Meanwhile, smaller counties, including Orleans and Niagara, have received little to no funding. The SMART Act would send one-third of the $500 billion ($161 billion) directly to local governments based on revenue loss, population size, and Covid-19 caseload.

“The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the local economies of all counties across New York State, large and small, and as such, all counties should have received a share of CARES Act dollars,” said Becky Wydysh, chairwoman of the Niagara County Legislature. “We do not begrudge the fact that Erie County received funding, and quite frankly, they have done some great things like grants to small businesses that we would emulate. That is why I join with Congressman Jacobs and my colleagues in calling on New York State to release CARES dollars that are still sitting in Albany to counties like Niagara that so far have received nothing.”

“I am calling on Governor Cuomo to release CARES Act funds to our rural counties. Each day that he stalls forces smaller counties to make difficult decisions,” said Lynne Johnson, chairwoman of Orleans County Legislature.

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