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Hempstead to vote on awarding $5.55M to school districts

The Town of Hempstead will use some of

The Town of Hempstead will use some of its $133 million in stimulus money to aid schools. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Hempstead officials on Tuesday plan to award the remaining $25.8 million in federal stimulus funding the town received to school districts, villages and to cover town building improvements and janitorial supplies.

Town Board members will vote on a series of spending, including $5.55 million — or $150,000 each to 37 school districts that serve Hempstead Town students, including Nassau BOCES, Long Beach, New Hyde Park and Westbury.

Villages and fire departments are also set to receive $250,000 in total to cover personal protective equipment.

The town will have allocated under the latest spending about $132 million of the $133 million in CARES funding from the U.S. Treasury to cover COVID-19-related expenses.

The town will also vote to put $20 million toward its own building expenses, including $16 million for plumbing, maintenance and cleaning supplies at the town’s parks department, department of senior enrichment and conservation and waterways.

Board members on Tuesday also plan to approve $10.7 million in CARES funding already earmarked to replace heating and air conditioning at town facilities. The town is improving 169 buildings, including modifying 423 touchless bathrooms and replacing air filtration systems to reduce transmission of the coronavirus.

"From helping to provide over a million meals to address food insecurity, to testing thousands of residents, to helping villages, first responders, hospitals, schools, seniors and all of those in our society who are most at risk, the Town Board has utilized millions of dollars in federal funds for programs to directly help residents during this pandemic," Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin said in a statement.

Hempstead was the only town in the country to receive funding based on its population of nearly 800,000. Nassau County, with a population of 1.3 million residents — including Hempstead — received $103 million in federal funding. County officials said funding was used for expenses, such as front-line workers, police and the county’s hospitals.

The Treasury is conducting an audit to review Hempstead's spending after the town denied a request from several Long Island officials to give a portion of its funding to the county.

The $900 billion stimulus package approved by Congress last month did not award any additional state or local aid, but extended the deadline for communities to use CARES funding until Dec. 31, 2021. Funding cannot be used for lost revenue.

Hempstead used $70 million in CARES money last month to cover payroll expenditures for departments — such as sanitation — that the town deemed essential for public health and safety. The town ended 2020 with a $68 million surplus, bolstered by the federal aid.

The town previously awarded $29 million to local universities, hospitals and food banks. Other funding was given to villages and fire departments for PPE expenses and to charities, such as the United Way and the United Cerebral Palsy Association.

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