SUNBURY — The Northumberland County Commissioners expect to receive $17 million from the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill passed by Congress in March.
Commissioner Chairman Sam Schiccatano at Tuesday’s public meeting announced the allocation and discussed the public funding the county has already received through the COVID-19 pandemic. President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act into law on March 11.
“That will be a payout in two different times,” said Schiccatano. “We haven’t gotten the parameters or qualifications of that. As soon as we do know we’ll be notifying the public and decide whether we will be handling that or outsourcing that.”
Economic development coordinator Justin Skavery said the $17 million is expected in two parts: half within 60 days and the other half within 12 months.
The county received $8.2 million in federal CARES Act funding, which was distributed to 36 municipalities, six school districts, 12 small businesses, 16 nonprofit organizations and the county Conservation District, as well as new radios for the 911 system, efforts to improve broadband internet services and county departments.
The county also received $1,028,921 in COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP) funding that will be available for restaurants, bars, taverns and pubs financially affected by the pandemic. Furthermore, the county received $425,405 in Community Development Block Grant funding toward COVID relief and there is $5.9 million available for rental assistance through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).
“It was discussed by all three commissioners and in some cases, we contracted out to deliver this money (to SEDA-Council of Government or Central Susquehanna Opportunities),” said Schiccatano.
Commissioner Kymberley Best said the decisions on who to provide funding for were not made lightly. Even though the management of some of the funding was outsourced, she said the commissioners were involved with the process and met weekly with SEDA-COG.
Best said the rules for distributing the funding were confusing, difficult to understand and changed several times even during the administration of the money. She encouraged organizations to contact the county in order to better understand why they didn’t originally qualify or how to better qualify for funding in the future.
“The money came before the rules,” said Best. “They wanted this money to hit the streets as fast as possible, and then the rules came. That’s why we couldn’t meet with people ahead of time.”