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County Executives Call For Immediate Pandemic Disaster Relief

BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) - Broome County Executive Jason Garnar put out a call to Washington for county-level disaster relief Tuesday.

Speaking on a Zoom call alongside Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, Garnar warned entire departments might be cut if county governments don’t receive funding in the next month.

“We might have to close all the parks or our arena or the [Broome County Arena & Forum Theatre] or do other types of layoffs,” Garnar said. “It is really, really going to hurt this community if we don’t get some type of assistance.”

Counties across New York face unprecedented budget losses while the need for resources has increased during the pandemic. According to Garnar, 300 county government positions, including 150 full-time positions, have gone unfilled since the start of the pandemic.

Broome County now faces a $25 million budget deficit, which Garnar said they have just three to four weeks to resolve before the county will have to make large cuts.

Garnar said county leaders from across the state have been working together throughout the pandemic. He said his call with Bellone, a Democrat, and Molinaro, a Republican, demonstrated the statewide efforts to cooperate across the aisle, which he said is required in delivering in any case disaster relief is needed.

“There are two Democrats and one Republican on the line and throughout this whole process I worked with Republican County executives and Democratic county executives to share best practices with them, and talk about what’s going on and work through this pandemic together,” Garnar said. “Maybe Washington, D.C. should look at what we’ve done in New York state.”

Congress has yet to compromise on a new coronavirus relief package. On Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo, who also serves as the chair of the National Governors Association, said $500 million in unrestricted state aid is needed to protect the nation’s economy.