WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — If you had 60 million dollars and were forced to spend it, what would you do?
That’s exactly the money dilemma weighing on Luzerne County Council members as they iron out the details about how they plan to award nearly 60 million in American Rescue Plan Funding Grants.
Lawmakers took up the topic at Tuesday night’s County Council meeting.
County Council intends to award the grants to qualifying businesses, non-profits, and municipalities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But before that can be done, council has to approve a plan outlining how it will proceed with distributing the funds before they’re given out.
Luzerne County was awarded more than $112 million dollars in American Rescue Plan Act funding from the U.S. Department of Treasury.
Its purpose is to provide relief to government entities and support recovery efforts including assistance to small businesses, non-profits, and aid to impacted industries.
“They had to indicate why they needed the money, what it was being used for, they had to submit a budget, they had to say how they were impacted by COVID, it was a very lengthy application process,” said Luzerne County Council Chair Kendra Radle.
Last year, roughly 140 applications were received and 76 entities scored high enough to be given further consideration.
During Tuesday’s voting session, the council adopted council member Matt Mitchell’s proposal, which includes $2 million in funding for flood protection measures in West Pittston.
“The levee is gonna cost between $50 and $60 million. They’re looking for a match, now a match of $2 million is not gonna go real far toward a $60 million project. I strongly advocate that council reconsider,” said Luzerne County Council Member Brian Thornton.
“Not to say that any project on that list is more or less worthy than any other one, I think that tonight is supposed to be a night that we should be proud of as county council that we were able to come up with a list that was as equitable as possible and we should be moving a step in the right direction to make sure that small businesses, municipalities, authorities, and non-profits should be getting some money, money that they desperately need,” said Luzerne County Council Vice Chair John Lombardo.
The next Luzerne County Council meeting is scheduled for March 28 and it’s when council could vote to award funding grants.