After months of deliberation, the U.S. Treasury Department will allow federal Covid-19 aid funds made available to county governments to go directly to Vermont cities and towns, the state’s congressional delegation said Friday.
That means the Vermont city councils will receive an additional $ 120 million in federal funds.
The American Rescue Plan Act, passed in March, provides separate funding for state, local, and city governments. The parishes of Vermont were US $ 76 million appropriated. The Treasury Department designated counties as a form of local government and withheld county-specific money from Vermont because Vermont county governments have no mechanisms to obtain it.
Vermont counties oversee courthouses and sheriff’s departments, and their budgets are drawn up by elected assistant judges. These budgets are usually quite small. Chittenden County is the only county in Vermont with an annual budget of over $ 1 million.
So the Vermont Congressional Delegation urged federal officials to recognize the uniqueness of Vermont counties and to channel the county’s money to cities and towns that perform government functions that counties often perform in other states.
In a joint statement on Friday, Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders and Congressman Peter Welch said, “With this updated Treasury rule, US $ 120 million for the state will finally go to cities across Vermont. and these resources will help meet the needs for Vermonters across the state. “
Leahy, chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, asked Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to change the name during a subcommittee hearing in June.
“I would like to thank our congressional delegation for their advocacy and the Biden administration for their willingness to listen and adapt to Vermont’s unique county structure,” said Governor Phil Scott in a statement Friday. “This revision of the guidelines will allow our communities to take full advantage of the ARPA funding they are entitled to so they can make critical investments to meet their needs and help us better recover from the pandemic.”
It remains unclear how the funds will be distributed to the individual cities at the district level.
“Congress intended that these public financier funds would help local governments fill the gaps created by the pandemic, respond to the ongoing crisis and find a path to long-term recovery,” wrote Ted Brady, Executive Director of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, in an email to VTDigger. “The towns and villages of Vermont appreciate the dedication of our congressional delegation and Governor Scott’s efforts to ensure funding gets through locally.”
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