How Binghamton, Elmira, Ithaca uses COVID money


Broken windows are strewn across the porch roof of the former IBM Country Club in Johnson City.

Two miles away, splashes of colorful graffiti cover the walls, inside and out, of the former EJ Victory Building at 59 Lester Avenue.

New life will be breathed into these spaces with the help of $37 million from the US bailout, and more than $163 million will be spent in Broome, Chemung and Tompkins counties and the cities of Binghamton, Elmira and Ithaca – Southern Tier municipalities reviewed by the USA TODAY Network.

Planned projects reflect the needs of each community and indicate the issues facing each area, from building affordable housing in Binghamton’s premier neighborhood to removing dead and dying trees at Elmira’s Mark Twain Golf Course and at Woodlawn Cemetery.

Income replacement tops the chart, with the top three expenses being:

  • The city of Binghamton spent $12 million in lost revenue.
  • Broome County used $7 million to replace public safety revenue.
  • The City of Elmira spent over $2 million repairing the city’s clock tower (using revenue loss funds).

Municipalities all experienced revenue losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ranging from $2 million to $34 million. Whether it’s replacing revenue Binghamton lost on its parking ramps or due to decreased garbage collection, or helping fix a clock tower in Elmira, most counties and cities have begun to present their plans to fill the void created by the pandemic.

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Premium pay, or extra income for eligible workers doing essential work during the pandemic, was another big deal for Binghamton and Elmira. City employees who qualified for the premium pay and those who did not receive a combined total of more than $1.5 million from Binghamton’s ARPA funds.

Full-time City of Elmira employees received $5,000, part-time employees received $2,500, and seasonal or temporary employees received $1,000.

Both cities have also hired administrative help to help determine what the ARPA money should be used for.

Breakdown of local expenses

Work has begun at 95 Walnut St. in Binghamton as part of an affordable housing project made possible by Broome County ARPA funds.

In Binghamton’s first ward, the beginnings of an affordable housing project were carved into the land at 95 Walnut Street. What lies beyond the temporary metal fence is one of seven places ARPA funding from the city is helping to build and rehabilitate.

Among some of the other Binghamton projects receiving a helping hand are $600,000 improvements to City Hall to increase gathering capacity for public events, a water supply upgrade and the pump station which plans to use $145,000 and $30,000 water filtration plant upgrades to increase the longevity and reliance of existing systems.

Improvements and upgrades are also plentiful in Broome County plans.

In addition to assisting with the demolition of the former IBM Country Club in the city of Union and the redevelopment of 59 Lester Ave., county plans include:

  • $66,000 for improvements to Ethel Place Park in Vestal.
  • $32,000 in renovations for the Port Dickinson Park basketball court.
  • $18,000 for restroom upgrades and lighting at Broome County Fairgrounds.

Chemung County’s main goal has been to give back to its nonprofit organizations, which Elmira has also done. The county is also receiving $1 million from the city of Elmira, which city manager Mike Collins said some lawmakers had requested because of the leadership shown by the county executive and city manager. public health during the pandemic.

Diversified use of Elmira funds includes:

  • A $1 million irrigation system was added under the Mark Twain Golf Course.
  • Seat upgrade at Dunn Field.
  • Repair of the Chamber of Commerce trolley.
  • Build a parade float storage facility.
  • Increase broadband speeds.
  • Hiring of a Publicity Liaison Officer to boost tourism efforts.

The city has also dedicated a portion of its funds to programs that will give back to the community. Two commercial programs aim to help businesses hit hard by the pandemic, while homeowners can also apply for the Property Rehabilitation Repair Program, which awards recipients up to $5,000.

The city’s water supply system is also getting decent attention, with more than $1 million going to the Elmira Water Board to continue replacing lead service lines and for a cleanup project. hydraulic infrastructure. Stormwater and sanitary sewer maintenance will receive $2 million.

Construction began on the former EJ Victory building at 59 Lester Ave.  in Johnson City.

Ithaca has spent $570,000 of its planned $1.5 million for repairs to the wastewater treatment facility’s digester, but has not yet specified amounts for revenue replacement projects ranging from funding new and existing nonprofit organizations to fund a new department to reinvent public safety.

Bridge culvert projects at a number of locations around Tompkins County have used $30,000 of ARPA funds from the municipality so far.

What the reports do not include but the municipalities have added

Tompkins County Administrator Lisa Holmes explained that a number of incremental and single-use capital projects also use county ARPA funds.

“About $3.8 million in ARPA funds were used for one-time requests from county departments and community agencies,” Holmes said.

In addition to the bridge culvert project, the county elected to fund county restoration projects, material management and recycling facility improvements, a road maintenance program, and security building improvements. public with 75% of the ARPA money.

Joining the nearly $100,000 earmarked for nonprofit organizations, the Chemung County Legislature recently announced two grant programs that will use a total of $700,000.

One, the Orange Zone Recovery Grant Program, was launched to help local businesses that were located in the restricted Orange Zone at the height of the pandemic with grants worth up to $5,000. . The other, the Farm Subsidy Grant Program, will distribute $5,000 grants to farms affected by the pandemic.

Binghamton also announced other projects that will use the city’s ARPA funds, including:

  • $500,000 for the rehabilitation of the former Urban League building into a daycare centre.
  • $200,000 for the North Side Rehabilitation housing project.
  • Modernization of a community food pantry operated by Outreach Ministries.

The city’s plans for a youth and community center at Columbus Park also included using ARPA funds, but when project costs reached about $10 million, it was put on hold.

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