After a vote by the Orange County Legislature, $74 million in funding earmarked to help the local economy is now mostly going to improve county buildings and infrastructure.

A press release from Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus touted the unanimous decision by legislators to spend money from the American Rescue Plan Act on several projects that some complain may not actually have much of an impact on the local economy as intended.

President Biden announced the American Rescue Plan Act to address the unprecedented challenges our country has been facing due to the global pandemic. The $1.9 trillion relief plan was intended to "provide direct relief to Americans, contain COVID-19 and rescue the economy."

That money is supposed to be used by local governments to directly help residents deal with all of the economic issues that everyone has been suffering through over the past three years.

Orange County Government
Orange County Government

Neuhaus announced that "Orange County has decided to use much of this critical ARPA funding on improving infrastructure and public safety." Some residents are wondering, however, how some of the proposed projects will benefit them directly, help fight COVID-19 or address economic concerns as the ARPA intended.

The bulk of the money in the county's relief fund will actually go towards improving the medical examiner's office. While this is probably a worthwhile pursuit, the "state-of-the-art" upgrade is going to cost a whopping $24 million in vital relief funds to construct "a dignified public entrance and waiting area, a family viewing room, autopsy room and isolation autopsy."

Other county projects will receive millions of dollars for security and technological upgrades of government buildings, public safety radios and other improvements to buildings and municipal facilities. The second biggest expenditure on the list is $16.3 million which will go directly to Orange County employees. The money has been earmarked "for recruitment and retention" of government workers.

A full list of how Orange County has voted to spend the $74,770,002 in ARPA funds is listed below.

  • $24 million for a new, state-of-the-art Medical Examiner’s Office. The facility will include a dignified public entrance and waiting area, a family viewing room, autopsy room and isolation autopsy.
  • $16.3 million for recruitment and retention of County employees.
  • $6.3 million for security upgrades at County government buildings at 30 different locations.
  • $6 million for the enhancement of school safety, including upgraded public safety radios.
  • $5 million for asbestos removal and a new roof at Morrison Hall at SUNY Orange in Middletown.
  • $4.5 million for new equipment for the County’s Information Technology Department.
  • $1.5 million for upgrades at Cromline Pump Station.
  • $1 million for water improvements at Thomas Bull Memorial Park.

We want to know what you think. Do you believe these projects are a good use of money received from the American Rescue Plan Act or would you like to see the emergency funds go to other programs that directly assist local residents financially?

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