Plandome Heights Mayor Kenneth C. Riscica and village trustees on June 28 gathered for a special meeting that would decide whether or not the village would enroll in the American Rescue Plan. The mayor and the trustees ultimately decided to enroll to ensure that Plandome Heights would not miss out on an opportunity to invest in their community.
The American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion stimulus package, was signed into law by President Biden on March 11. Of those monies, $130 billion will be allocated towards local governments.
“I talked to literally almost 100 — over 150 mayors, all governors except one, constantly going over the granular detail of the implementation of this legislation,” Biden had said during his remarks on March 15. “And the effort puts us on a path from crisis to recovery to resurgence.”
With likely $130 billion being allocated from the federal government towards local governments, Plandome Heights, in the span of two years, could receive $110,000. However, as Riscica pointed out, nothing is promised yet.
According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, not only can the money local governments receive be used to address revenue losses during the pandemic and recovery thereafter, it will also provide the resources to invest in infrastructure, including water, sewer and broadband services.
Initially, Riscica said he was hesitant to enroll in the America Rescue Plan, as he wasn’t sure such a plan would apply to Plandome Heights. But he did see the American Rescue Plan as an opportunity to address water and sewer infrastructure in the village.
“I think the [American Rescue Plan] is evolving,” Riscica said, adding that what he read in regards to the plan last month is different than what it is today. “My initial take on this was, this is not for our village. We don’t have first responders, we’re not delivering vaccines. We are not blighted by the experience. Yes, we have people that are hurt. But, we are probably cushioned more than some. Excluding us that were restaurant owners, of course.”
But with the federal government allowing local municipalities to spend the money on infrastructure, Riscica suggested that perhaps Plandome Heights should not be excluded from the program. “We need to preserve that opportunity for our residents,” Riscica said.
Trustee Gus Panopoulos said that as a business owner, he knows how programs like the American Rescue Plan could continue to evolve because he saw the same thing with the Paycheck Protection Program. “When it first came out, they kept trying to add more things,” Panopoulos said. “What we know now today might change again in a few weeks… That’s what happenings.”
When asked what areas the village would consider allocating the money towards, Riscica said investing in infrastructure that could prevent storm water and debris from ending up in the Manhasset Bay, as well as assisting any residents of the village who have suffered as a result of the pandemic. The money, Riscica said, must be spent by 2026.
“It’s evolving to be more broadly used and we can’t deny our residents the ability to participate in that as it evolves,” Riscica said.
As the deadline to enroll in the program neared, other municipalities began enrolling in the program as well.
After Congresswoman Kathleen Rice announced that she joined the House of Representatives in voting in favor of the American Rescue Plan, Town of North Hempstead Judi Bosworth showed her support for the plan. The town will receive approximately $10 million in federal funding, however it is not clear how the town will spend the money just yet.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on local governments and we are so fortunate to have representatives in DC fighting to ensure that we would receive this critical funding,” Bosworth said.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran on June 29 announced the Nassau County Legislature unanimously passed her proposal to tap $62.9 million in American Rescue Plan monies to invest in an economic recover and community investment package.
“Our bipartisan plan will deliver relief for small businesses, revitalize main streets and downtowns, strengthen Nassau’s water and sewer infrastructure while supporting workforce development, senior citizens, veterans and youth,” Curran said via social media. “As we recover from the pandemic, Nassau County is ready to come back stronger than ever.”