Granville, county eye stimulus funds

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Looking to the future, the Granville Town Board is hopeful to receive community input on the use of incoming funds from the federal government’s disbursement of a hefty stimulus bill that would send just under $12 million to Washington County and $710,000 to be split between the village and town of Granville, part of a $12 billion sum to be received by the state.

“They (Washington County) have not figured out the formula on what they are going to use to split that,” said town supervisor Matt Hicks. “I’m guessing our share is going to be somewhere around $425,000, give-or-take. We won’t see any of it for at least 60 days; it’s possible we get it in two installments, half of it up front and half of it later on.”

After conversations and initial guidance from Sen. Charles Schumer, state and county officials, Hicks and the other 16 town supervisors in Washington County were given a more clear idea of what the stimulus can be spent on.

“Any costs associated with the COVID-19 public health emergency, supporting workers to cover any revenue losses during the emergency and to make any necessary investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure,” Hicks said. “Funds may not be used by state or localities to cover the cost of pensions or to offset a reduction in taxes.”

The board will have until the end of 2024 to use all the allocated disbursement from the federal government.

“We’re going to have lots of options,” Hicks said. “I have word with Jenny (Martelle, town clerk) and Julie (Goff, deputy town clerk) to put together a town hall cost situation for 2020 and it’s going to be several thousand dollars. I have word with Scott (Taylor, town highway superintendent) in the same regard and he’s come up with quite a bit of money that we spent last year on this.”

Hicks is still waiting to hear back if there will be spending limits on the categories such as water and broadband, or if an unlimited amount of this disbursement will be able to attend issues listed in the requirements.

Board member Tom Cosey said he feels broadband is a “necessity” after looking at the effect of the pandemic over the last year.

“I think that is a necessity, given the problems the school’s had and looking at our town and towns like us in general,” Cosey said. “Everybody should have access to broadband, to high-speed internet. And I think if we can gain something from this, that would be an important thing on my list for the town.”

Hicks pointed out with 17 townships in Washington County all facing some sort of issue with broadband accessibility, if it would make sense to establish 17 individual “small broadband programs,” or if one that stretches throughout the county would be more realistic. Hicks said he is waiting for more information.

Hicks said the stimulus applies to non-for-profits (501c3’s) as well, mentioning board member Jim Bradt’s membership with Penrhyn Engine & Hose Company in Middle Granville.

“If you (Bradt) could document any losses due to COVID or any additional expenses you’ve had due to COVID, they could potentially be reimbursable,” Hicks said. “This is a broad, huge federal program, we’re just starting to get a trickle of the information.”

Money that isn’t used in the allotted time must be sent back to the federal government.

“At the end of 2024, if we haven’t spent what they have allocated to us, we have to send it back. We’ll spend it on water or broadband or something before we send it back to the feds,” Hicks said.