Ulster County Legislature chair Tracey Bartels announced her first committee appointments over the weekend. The five-member American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) special committee established at the January 10 organizational meeting will be chaired by Democratic legislator Peter Criswell of Kingston.
Calling the $34,491,474 in federal money allotted the county government “a once-in-a-lifetime funding opportunity for Ulster County,” Criswell emphasized the need for thoughtful investment decisions. “The committee will think carefully about long-term effects and how to seed projects that will continue to bear fruit in the future,” he said.
Marlboro GOP legislator Thomas Corcoran, Jr. will be deputy chair. “I’m honored and appreciate the assignment to this committee,” said Corcoran. “I take the responsibility of overseeing the distribution of these funds seriously and look forward to helping our communities and the residents of Ulster County.”
Other members will be Craig Lopez of Shawangunk, a Republican, and two Democratic legislative rookies, Aaron Levine of Saugerties and Megan Sperry of New Paltz.
The special committee will review all proposals for the funding and forward them to the appropriate legislative standing committees.
“The special committee will ensure ARPA funds are effectively used to provide immediate economic stabilization for households and businesses affected by Covid-19, improve essential public services, and eliminate systemic health and economic challenges that have contributed to the unequal impact of the pandemic,” said the release.
That’s a tall order. In a telephone conversation, Bartels emphasized that the many worthy competing needs for the funds dwarfed even so large a sum. It had to be invested wisely.
The release committee said the special committee would “work in partnership with the executive team [county executive Pat Ryan] to make long-term improvements, with special focus on the people and communities that Covid and the Covid pandemic have most impacted.”
The public is encouraged to listen to ARPA special committee discussions and reach out to the committee with agenda topics of special concern. The committee will hold its first meeting on Wednesday, January 26 at 5:30 p.m. The meeting will be online via Zoom. To listen by phone, call 846-558-8656; Meeting ID: 846 2769 9696.