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The Point: Nassau eases tracking of $385M in federal aid

Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman says ensuring the

Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman says ensuring the federal money under American Rescue Plan Act is properly tracked "is a safeguard against the funds being wasted." Credit: Danielle Silverman

With hundreds of millions of dollars in federal recovery funds flowing into Nassau County, Comptroller Jack Schnirman has put a system in place meant to keep shedding light on how that money is spent.

The site is http://nassau-arpa.finance.socrata.com.

The goal is to keep track of $385 million Nassau garnered from the federal government under the American Rescue Plan Act, released in two distributions.

The first $192.5 million went to the county on May 19, with the second half due on the same date in 2022. Of that first distribution, $162.9 million has been appropriated so far, as the site shows.

The county must obligate all the money to be spent by the end of 2024, and must spend it all by the end of 2026.

"We’re trying to finish up a few priorities as we wrap up, of things that really mean something to us," said Schnirman, a Democrat who did not seek reelection amid controversy over excessive termination pay from his stint as city manager in Long Beach that he later repaid.

"Making sure this money is properly tracked in a very transparent way is a safeguard against the funds being wasted."

Schnirman also put out a report in June, titled "Guiding principles: Making smart investments with stimulus funding," that he genially admitted few people if anyone read or noticed, and he’s hoping this will be a lot more effective.

So far, the site is tracking the progress of Nassau’s sending of $375 checks to most county households, which will eventually cost about $100 million. It’s also keeping tabs on another $62.9 million allocated to 14 programs designed to assist residents and businesses, invest in infrastructure and expand social services.

Schnirman says as time goes on, and the money is expended, the offerings on the site will become more detailed.

In Suffolk, Comptroller John Kennedy has not yet set such a plan in motion. But he told The Point Monday he will put similar information on his department’s website, and said of Schnirman’s initiative in creating a standalone tracker, "In the spirit of transparency, I will take a good hard look at doing that too."

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