How Yates County and Finger Lakes are spending COVID rescue money

Yates County is receiving $4,839,058 of the $440 million in pandemic relief funds allocated to the Finger Lakes region.

FINGER LAKES — Some $440 million in pandemic rescue funds are spread across nine Finger Lakes counties and the cities of Rochester and Canandaigua.

And local governments are so far choosing to invest large sums in overdue or long-desired public works projects, back-office needs, and employee compensation and bonuses.

Funding from the American Rescue Plan Act is intended to address the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on the economy, public health, governments, individuals and businesses. The funds must be spent by the end of 2026.

Yates County

Of that $440 million for the Finger Lakes region, Yates County receives $4,839,058. Yates County Administrator Nonie Flynn said that because the intent of the American Rescue Plan Act funding for Yates County was to address the impact of COVID-19, the Legislature of county saw a public health need that it is able to combine with two other long-needed projects. . This public health need was to provide a site for vaccinations and mass testing.

“For the past two years, we’ve had to rent a former retail space and turn it into our vaccination site,” Flynn says. “It took a lot of work from our buildings and grounds and information technology staff just to get the site ready for our public health staff.” On top of that, public health staff then had to move much of their equipment and supplies to the remote location of the former Gordman department store at Lake Street Plaza.

“Therefore, it was a no-brainer decision for our legislature to use ARPA funding to provide a site for our public health department to do its job of providing services to our entire community. county,” Flynn said.

In discussions about finding a more permanent remote site for public health purposes, it became apparent to lawmakers that they could combine this with the county’s need for a new highway department building in Benton. Center.

“Legislators considered recommendations from the condition and needs assessment that was completed in 2019 on our 70-plus-year-old building and other existing buildings at the Benton site,” Flynn said. “A new facility would also meet the current and future needs of our ever-changing emergency services operations. It would create space for emergency response operations during disasters.

Nonie Flynn, Yates County Administrator

Flynn adds that once built, the new facility will also serve as a central training area for volunteer fire departments and EMS providers throughout Yates County. It will also be a secure facility for the storage of resources provided by FEMA, the New York State Office of Emergency Management, the Office of Fire Prevention and Control, the Division of Homeland Security and the public health for county, town and village use.

The current plan is to construct a new main facility on the current Highways Department grounds at Benton Center which will include the Highway and Emergency Services Administration, as well as the Remote Site for Public Health Services. The design will allow for effective drive-through vaccinations and testing, as well as rabies clinics. The main public health office will remain in the county office building on Liberty Street in Penn Yan for day-to-day operations.

“This one-time source of funding is for our one-time capital expenditures that will benefit all residents of Yates County,” Flynn adds.


The City of Rochester has already allocated (but not yet spent) $130 million of its $202 million. Mayor Malik Evans is asking staff to review those decisions to make sure the projects can “run in a timely manner.” Otherwise, the dollars will be withdrawn and assigned to something else.

Work crews from the City of Rochester Department of Environmental Services and the Bureau of Water work to replace lead pipes along the 200 block of Congress Avenue in Rochester on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. At right is an old section of pipe that has been replaced.

Investments so far have ranged from replacing lead pipes in the city’s water system to housing, including subsidizing new homes for sale for low-income buyers, to helping small businesses and to a guaranteed basic income trial program. The city is also discussing with Monroe County and the City of Rochester School District about aligning investments to maximize impact. Monroe County has yet to set a spending plan.

Other counties

Many jurisdictions are staying early in their decision-making process, having so far only hired consultants and accountants to oversee spending and ensure compliance with federal regulations.

Network or cybersecurity tops initial spending in Livingston and Wayne counties, records show. Seneca County has focused on improving accessibility to a historic Ovid County Courthouse, sewer projects, and upgrading bridges and culverts along Seneca Road. County 136, adjacent to Lodi Point State Park, in an area hard hit during the 2018 floods. Yates has dedicated all of the funds received so far to the design and construction of a satellite space public health, officials said, explaining that the need was evident as officials sought to provide mass vaccinations.

Elsewhere, Ontario County’s largest commitment to date is $874,000 in incentive compensation for executives. awarding a one-time $7,000 bonus to managers who otherwise did not receive a raise in 2021, records show. That award exceeded combined commitments to vaccination clinics, aid for small businesses, a study of disparate fire and ambulance coverage, public health payrolls and administrative costs.

However, the county still has significant funding to allocate, with a total of $21.3 million.

Canandaigua earmarked its entire $1 million allocation, dedicating the money to water and sewer projects and the bulk of the dollars ($740,000) to lost revenue and a fund. capital reserve. City manager John Goodwin said: “As this is a one-time income, we expect to spend on one-time expenses.”

Only municipalities and counties with populations over 250,000, or that have received more than $10 million in funding, have so far been required to report their expenditures to the US Treasury.

Contact reporter Brian Sharp at [email protected] or 585-258-2275. Follow him on Twitter @sharproc. This coverage is only possible with the support of our readers.