(MINEOLA, N.Y.) - At a time when Nassau County has more than $250 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding at its disposal, Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D - Glen Cove) has filed legislation to form the ARPA Community Advisory Board and introduce much-needed transparency and community input into the spending of this once-in-a-generation influx of federal aid.Nassau County received a total of $385,003,440 in ARPA funding via payments of $192,501,720 on May 19, 2021 and June 9, 2022. Thus far, the Blakeman administration has stated its unilateral intentions to “spend $265 million in accumulated pandemic aid… on initiatives to boost mental health services and help small businesses,” but has offered no concrete details of what those projects would entail or how those decisions were reached.To date, the administration has allocated $1 million in ARPA funds toward a grant program for veterans’ organizations and $250,000 to a summer internship program. On Monday, Oct. 3, the Legislature committees were set to consider a board transfer filed by the administration that seeks to reallocate $20,140,000 of the more than $70 million in leftover ARPA funds that had been previously earmarked for the now-defunct Household Assistance Program.“With more than a quarter billion dollars at our disposal, Nassau County must operate with the maximum possible levels of transparency, oversight and community input to ensure that these federal funds are spent wisely and efficiently,” Legislator DeRiggi-Whitton said. “Convening this advisory board will provide key decision makers with crucial feedback and insights that will help guide them to deliver the greatest possible benefits for Nassau County’s future.”Under Legislator DeRiggi-Whitton’s proposal, a 14-member Community Advisory Board would give a voice to the people of our County who know firsthand the issues affecting them and their neighbors while simultaneously providing advice and recommendations on how best to use these funds. The ARPA Community Advisory Board would be required to meet at least four times per calendar year, deliver recommendations to the County Executive and the Legislature for expenditures at least twice per year, and publish an annual report detailing recommendations it had submitted during the calendar year; actions taken pursuant to the biennial recommendations; and funds that were appropriated during the calendar year.Membership would consist of the Nassau County Attorney, the Budget Director for the Office of Management and Budget, one Legislator from the Majority and Minority Caucuses, and three community members chosen respectively by the County Executive, Presiding Officer and Minority Leader whose nominations would be approved by the Legislature. The board will continue to meet until the County’s ARPA allotment is spent and a final written report has been issued to the County Executive and Legislature.The advisory board would function similarly to the COVID-19 Economic Advisory Council - a panel of business, education and social services leaders that was convened by former Nassau County Executive Laura Curran to assess the countywide impact of the pandemic on businesses and provide recommendations on how best to spend federal relief funds. Legislator DeRiggi-Whitton served as the Minority Caucus representative on the Advisory Council until it ceased operations in 2022.
Click Here to Read the Proposal