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Nassau lawmakers transfer additional $22M for pandemic relief

Nassau lawmakers on Monday transferred an additional $22 million in federal pandemic funds to continue County Executive Laura Curran's grant programs for businesses and residents, including for a one-time, direct payment of $375.

The 19-member legislature unanimously approved an emergency request from the outgoing administration to fund programs aimed at helping those economically damaged by the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown and protocols.

"Today, the Republican Majority continued its efforts to ensure that businesses and residents that suffered so greatly during the pandemic can access much needed relief," said Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park). "We look forward to working with the incoming County Executive to further our economic recovery."

The legislature previously had approved requests to appropriate $162.9 million of the $193 million the county received in May through the American Rescue Plan, which President Joe Biden signed into law in March.

Nassau will receive a total of $385 million from ARP; the second half of which is expected to be disbursed to the county in May 2022.

"Through today's unanimous action, the legislature has wisely preserved a series of programs that will equip Nassau residents and business owners to recover from the pandemic and invest in their future prosperity and well-being," said Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport).

Curran, a Democrat, will leave office next month after having been defeated by Republican Town Councilman Bruce Blakeman in the November election. He will take office on Jan. 1.

County executive-elect Blakeman said in a statement on Monday: "I support the Republican Majority's vote to support Nassau's economic recovery in the wake of the COVID pandemic, and look forward to partnering with them to move Nassau forward."

Included in the $22 million is $10 million to fund the county's Boost Nassau Main Street Recovery Grant Program, which provides 10,000 grants to eligible businesses and nonprofits with 50 or fewer employees and annual gross revenue of no more than $5 million.

The grants can be used to cover business expenses such as commercial rent or mortgage payments, payroll and other operating costs. Business owners can apply through an online portal.

Administration officials said there has been steady demand since the program's launch in July 2021.

County spokesperson Justine DiGiglio said there were 799 applications approved for grants, accounting for $7.9 million of the ARP funding. Of the approved applicants, 545 grants have been funded and 254 are in the pipeline.

There had been about $1.1 million left to fund additional applications, enough for 110 recipients, she said, before the legislature appropriated the additional $10 million.

Also included in the $22 million transfer is $5.5 million to pay consultants to review applications to the county's Household Assistance Program, which provides a one-time, $375 direct payment to county households with a combined income of up to $500,000.

The Curran administration had contracted, with legislative approval, the financial firm KPMG to review applications to the program.

Other items included in the $22 million are:

  • $4.5 million for COVID-19 disinfecting of all county buildings and public areas.
  • $650,000 to expand the county's Office of the Aging to increase food meal deliveries, adult day care, caregiver support and other functions.
  • $500,000 for a grant to the nonprofit Nassau County Vocational Education and Extension Board to cover costs such as social distancing measures and cleaning protocols.
  • $500,000 to expand youth services such as preventing learning loss because of school shutdowns, mentoring, mental health counseling and youth employment.

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