Plymouth County Commissioner Jared Valanzola and County Treasurer Tom O’Brien were in Rochester on April 30 to present Town Administrator Suzanne Szyndlar a check for $113,132.25, the town’s third COVID-19 reimbursement check under the CARES Act.
The funds cover approximately $60,000 for Rochester’s contribution to the school lunch program, the message board in town, and various types of personal protective equipment related to non-budgeted, pandemic-related expenses. Rochester’s total allocation under the CARES Act is $825,000; the town has made five submittals for reimbursement, two that are outstanding.
“We’ve been able to function because of this money,” said Szyndlar. “We are extremely grateful, and we thank everyone for working so hard on our behalf.”
The program is administered locally by Plymouth County and spends less than 1 percent for administration, according to O’Brien.
“We can do that because of our towns…. I can pick up the phone and call,” he said. “I know how hard Suzanne and her team work. They were faced with a vast number of rules and regulations that they had to address immediately, and we recognize, as the commissioners stepped up to the plate, they needed some support.
“The commissioners took a bold step and took the $90 million that was authorized under the (federal) CARES Act to administer to 27 communities of Plymouth County.”
O’Brien estimates that towns applying for CARES Act COVID-related reimbursement funds have received more than twice as much funding as those communities that declined and opted to deal directly with the state. He publicly thanked Senator Michael Rodrigues and Representative William Straus for their support of the county-administered program that offers more direct and immediate communication and a more widespread management.
“A worldwide pandemic is something that we never thought we would be persisting over a year later, but here we are,” said Valanzola. “I know Plymouth County; both my predecessor board and the current board have been happy to offer at least some semblance of good news in what’s really been a dour and unfortunate year.”
Originally set to expire at the end of 2020, the CARES Act has been extended to December 31, 2021. Once towns meet that deadline for submittals, Plymouth County will have the first 90 days of 2022 to complete its administration of the program.
“Suzanne is well ahead of the curve, she’s got a lot already submitted,” said O’Brien.
On March 11, the federal government passed the American Rescue Plan Act, another stimulus package for municipalities. The county and towns await rules and regulations governing ARPA.
By Mick Colageo