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How should $20.9M be spent? St. Lawrence County wants to know

Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 4:09 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - St. Lawrence County legislators are mulling over ideas for spending $20.9 million. That’s the county’s share of the $1.9 trillion federal stimulus passed in March.

Imagine broadband internet in remote areas. Imagine an expanded 911 center. Some St. Lawrence County legislators are doing just that.

“There’s some sentiment among legislators to take a look at how we can get the biggest bang for the buck,” said James Reagen, St. Lawrence County legislator.

And there will be a lot of bucks to work with - $20.9 million to be precise. That’s St. Lawrence County’s share of The American Rescue Plan stimulus signed by president Biden in March.

“There are a lot of decisions that would have to be made and a lot of information we would have to go over and analyze – and see where the monies would be best spent,” Joe Lightfoot, St. Lawrence County legislator.

One idea picking up steam among legislators is to use the money as local matching funds for even larger state and federal grants.

“We can improve our chances of attracting additional federal money if we invest some of our own,” said Reagen.

That strategy could help close broadband gaps in the county. Using some portion to upgrade the 911 center might be another. The money can also be used to help households, small businesses and non-profits impacted by the pandemic.

Legislators emphasize they’re still just batting around ideas at this point and they still want to know what the public wants.

A survey is posted on the county’s web site. It asks people to pick their top three categories for using the funds and other questions.

“I think that everything has to be looked at,” said Lightfoot.

President Biden’s signing of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill on Monday will also play into decisions. It also provides funds for broadband and some other county objectives.

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