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Officials await word on American Rescue Plan funding parameters

Several municipalities in central Lycoming County are expected to receive millions of dollars in federal stimulus package funds, a part of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

This week communities receiving top dollars on a list of approved allocations included: Loyalsock Township: $1,077,958; South Williamsport Borough: $599,931; Old Lycoming Township: $485,442; Montoursville Borough: $434,920 and DuBoistown Borough: $115,774.

Mayor Derek Slaughter previously said the city is targeted to receive $25.8 million. Lycoming County’s government is expected to get about $22 million.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 allocated $350 billion in funds for states and municipalities, according to Jason Fitzgerald, president of Penn Strategies Inc., an economic development consulting firm.

“These dollars may not be used to offset a reduction in taxes,” Fitzgerald said.

In Loyalsock Township, Bill Burdett, township manager, said the township and supervisors were appreciative and will await further guidance from the U.S. Treasury on how the money is to be spent.

The Treasury Department is expected to release detailed guidance in the coming weeks, Fitzgerald said.

The means of delivery starts with the treasury and then allocation and paying funds to state governments.

The state government then will distribute funds to units of local government in proportion to population, he said.

In South Williamsport, notice was received and federal stimulus funds were welcomed.

“The borough is quite appreciative to be receiving $600,000 in federal funding from the recent stimulus bill,” said Steven W. Cappelli, borough manager and public safety director.

“We have no immediate plans for expensing the funds but plan to identify community needs that could be advanced with this financial assistance,” he said.

Funding may be used to allow these governments to support vital public health and economic responses to the pandemic, according to the legislation.

The money can also provide premium pay to essential workers, replace lost government revenue to prevent harmful cuts to government services, and make necessary investments in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure, according to the legislation.

In Old Lycoming Township, manager Matt Aikey said the township is very appreciative of the stimulus, but he and supervisors have some concerns.

“Our concerns are who and how does this kind of money get paid back down the road?” he asked. “Who are we leaving to hold the bag so to speak? With the rising wages, benefits and just the cost of doing business Old Lycoming has operated on a razor-thin budget for the last handful of years doing everything in our power to not raise taxes and create further hardship upon or residents,” Aikey said. “The ‘pot’ is empty at the end of each year,” he said.

Aikey also noted how the guidance and community obligations are not yet released.

“We are waiting further guidance as to what is considered “acceptable” spending for the stimulus,” Aikey said. “We do have some ideas/ projects in mind for items such as infrastructure improvements, public safety and recreation,” he said.

The township officials, however, vowed they would not spend the money just because it was handed out.

“Will be spent responsibly and put back into the township to keep Old Lycoming Township a community that people want to be a part of and feel safe here,” Aikey said.

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