DELMAR — Bethlehem is slated to receive approximately $3.8 million from the federal government after the recent passing of the American Rescue Plan Act.
The American Rescue Plan Act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden last month allocates $1.9 trillion into a stimulus package meant to speed the country’s economic recovery. The package builds upon many of the measures in the CARES Act from March 2020 and in the Consolidated Appropriations Act from last December.
“The legislation gives general guidelines on how these funds may or may not be spent, but we’re still awaiting detailed directions from the U.S. Department of Treasury,” said Bethlehem Town Supervisor David VanLuven.
The monies come as part of $350 billion set aside within the law to help state, local and tribal governments bridge budget shortfalls and mitigate the fiscal shock. The New York State Association of Counties estimates the state lost $15.5 billion from lost business and sales taxes.
“New Yorkers made huge sacrifices to flatten the COVID-19 curve, and our economy suffered dearly for it,” said Albany County Executive Dan McCoy last August. “Now we need help from the federal government to stay in the fight against the pandemic, provide local services and assist local families through the worst of this recession.”
In addition to extending expanded unemployment benefits with a $300 weekly supplement through Labor Day, and paying individual taxpayers $1,400 each, there were several more beneficiaries targeted through the legislation.
Locally, the American Rescue Plan Act has been viewed as a means to help bail out small businesses, many of whom shuttered doors or witnessed profound losses through a pandemic approaching its 14th month of mitigation protocols.
The law is to provide $28.6 billion under the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The grant program exclusive to restaurants and bars is meant to meet payroll and other expenses. Individual businesses will be eligible for $5 million each. Another $15 billion is allocated to Emergency Injury Disaster Loans, a long-term, low-interest loan program of the Small Business Administration, focused on small businesses with fewer than 10 workers.
Other provisions include $7 billion to expand eligibility criteria to non-profit organizations previously excluded under the Paycheck Protection Program and $1.25 billion to fund music halls and other concert venues.
“In addition to these funds, I understand there’s legislation moving on the federal level that promises additional resources to support local businesses and to jump start the economy with desperately needed infrastructure dollars for water, sewer and transportation projects,” VanLuven said.