WASHINGTON — More than $841 million in federal stimulus aid for Long Island’s counties, towns and municipalities will start to be distributed this week as part of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package passed by Congress in March.
Nassau County is set to receive $385 million and Suffolk County is to receive $286.8 million in federal relief, according to figures released Monday by the U.S. Treasury Department.
President Joe Biden, speaking on the state of the economy at the White House on Monday, touted the release of $350 billion in state and local aid that was included in the American Rescue Plan.
"The money we’re going to be distributing now is going to make it possible for an awful lot of educators, first responders, sanitation workers to go back to work," Biden said.
New York State is in line to receive $12.7 billion in overall aid, while New York City will receive $4.2 billion, according to the Treasury Department’s data.
In Suffolk, Babylon Town is set to receive $27.7 million, Brookhaven Town will receive $55 million, Huntington Town will get $22.2 million and Islip Town is poised to receive $47.5 million.
In Nassau, Hempstead Village is set to receive $16.7 million.
Other Long Island towns and municipalities are also on deck to receive millions in aid, but the Treasury Department did not immediately have figures available for those localities. A department spokesperson, in an email to Newsday, said "Treasury is continuing to finalize guidance for these localities and we are working with interagency partners to have an update for these jurisdictions next week."
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) released preliminary estimates in March for the amount Long Island towns and municipalities were expected to receive. Those figures were derived in part from a funding formula that took the unemployment rate of each region into account. A spokesman for Schumer said Monday that the senator’s office was still awaiting final numbers from the Treasury Department.
Under the March estimates, Oyster Bay Town was projected to receive $32.7 million, North Hempstead Town would receive $25.4 million, Hempstead Town would get $84.1 million, the City of Long Beach would receive $3.7 million and the City of Glen Cove would receive $3 million. Suffolk’s six other remaining towns also would be eligible for aid.
If the estimates hold, then Long Island would be on pace to collect nearly $1 billion in federal aid when all the money is distributed. Treasury officials said most states and localities will receive half of their money in May and the other half will be dispersed in 12 months.
Schumer, who helped craft the federal relief legislation, had been pushing for months to include, in the series of relief bills passed by Congress last year, aid to state and local governments hard hit by the pandemic. But it faced GOP opposition, with Republican lawmakers describing the money as a "blue state bailout." House Republicans unanimously voted against the current package that passed by a narrow vote of the Democratic majority.
"After fighting this pandemic on the front lines, state and local governments in New York and across the country were loud and clear: they needed help and they needed it quickly to keep front line workers on the job and prevent brutal service cuts," Schumer said in a statement. "With the Treasury Department’s announcement today, we can say: help is on the way."
Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) in a statement said that "the local smaller villages and towns, however, are anxious to know exactly how much they will be receiving as part of this lifeline package. We are pushing and should get the final numbers soon."
Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) in a statement said the "funding will allow our communities to protect their residents, support their workers, and cover revenue shortages that have resulted from the public health emergency."
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said the federal aid will help prevent widespread budget cuts and layoffs that the county was preparing to enact in July, including the elimination of 500 full-time county worker positions and $13 million in cuts to transportation services.
"During a crisis, our residents rely on County government more than ever, and the $286 million in federal aid will allow the county to avoid drastic cuts to critical services and provide the resources necessary to recover from the pandemic over the next few years," Bellone said in a statement.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran’s spokesman, Michael Fricchione, said her office "is focused on using this funding to help Nassau’s residents and businesses come back from the pandemic."
"While the County reviews further guidance from the Treasury Department on how the funding can be spent, we are actively engaging with community stakeholders and our partners in the County Legislature to identify the areas of greatest need," Fricchione said.
States and local governments can use the money in part to pay for pandemic-related expenses, to replenish revenue shortfalls spurred by the pandemic and for some work, including sewer and water projects, that may have been delayed because of budget cuts caused by the pandemic, according to guidance released by the Treasury Department.
The money cannot be used to cut taxes, pay debt, or be set aside in a reserve fund, according to the Department.
Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo, in a call with reporters Monday, said, "It is a top priority for the Treasury to make sure we do everything we can to help those who have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 and promote a strong and equitable recovery."