An estimated $286 million in federal aid under the American Rescue Plan will prevent layoffs and drastic budget cuts in Suffolk County, County Executive Steve Bellone announced in a press release Thursday.
Bellone announced an agreement with legislative leadership to restore funds slated to be cut from the budget in July.
The county executive called the federal relief bill, which passed Congress almost entirely along party lines and was signed into law by President Joe Biden Thursday, “a resounding victory for Long Island businesses, families and local governments.”
“During a crisis, our residents rely on county government more than ever, and the $286 million in federal aid will allow the county to avoid drastic cuts to critical services and provide the resources necessary to recover from the pandemic over the next few years,” he said.
Bellone announced the need for a service reductions and layoffs in October, citing projected budget shortfalls from the impacts of the COVID pandemic on the economy. The budget cuts included slashing 500 full-time jobs, the elimination of 19 Suffolk bus routes that would have impacted 2,300 riders daily, and $20 million in public safety reductions.
The federal aid will prevent those layoffs and restore the bus lines, Bellone said. It will also allow the county to restore canceled Suffolk Police Academy classes and restore cuts to the five East End town police departments.
The aid will also allow critical services by contract agencies — substance abuse clinics, mental health providers, domestic violence shelters and gang prevention programs — which were looking at a 50% reduction in county funding, to continue uninterrupted without any reduction in county funding, Bellone said.
“This boost from Washington is critical to our county’s recovery efforts and will protect the essential services and workers that our residents count on every day,” Suffolk Presiding Officer Rob Calarco said.
“The COVID relief bill along with better than expected sales tax revenue will allow us to eliminate those drastic cuts to jobs and services, important to our workers and residents,” Minority Leader Kevin McCaffrey said.
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