Nassau County Executive Laura Curran is proposing a relief bill that would give county households who make less than $169,000 a year a direct cash payment of $375 to up to 400,000 county residents, as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, that was passed by the federal government earlier this year. The act gave Nassau County more than $1.9 million in aid.
Curran called on the legislature, which has been on break since early August, to reconvene early to vote on the legislation. She joined Cheri Gimpelman, a retired Valley Stream kindergarten teacher, at her home in Bellmore on Aug. 31.
“I am a homeowner and any little thing helps,” Gimpelman said of the relief money.
“Since day one of this crisis, I have focused on providing relief to our taxpayers, wherever and whenever possible,” Curran said. “Nassau County finances are in the best shape they have been in years.
“We need direct cash payments to homeowners and residents,” she added. “With the money we have from the federal government, we want to push this money out to our residents and businesses who need it.”
Households that make more than $169,000 a year, and have taken a financial hit due to the pandemic are also eligible to receive a cash payment, county officials shared.
“Our financial health means we can put this money directly into the hands and pockets of our residents,” Curran said. “I believe that this assistance will not only help those who are struggling, but will also provide a boost to our economy.
“That’s why we need the county legislators to come back early from their summer break,” she said. “Instead of playing politics, lets give out economy a boost and deliver relief for our residents.”
Also in attendance was Hempstead resident Carter Ward, a U.S. Navy veteran.
“Some people call it peanuts — some people may call it just pennies,” Ward said of the cash payment. “I appreciate the $375 because I lived on my credit cards through the pandemic.”
“Maybe I’ll take my son to dinner, or buy some flowers,” Gimpelman said of where the extra money could go. “The emotional part, along with the financial part — I think that it’s very important.”
John Durso, president of the Long Island Federation of Labor said $375 is a “great way to kick start the economy.”
“Those small business that have been hurt by this pandemic, those people who have been out of work for months — those individual families who have suffered so much will benefit greatly by this innovative and brilliant move,” Durso said.
“I call upon my friends in the legislature — Republicans and Democrats,” Durso added. “This is not a political issue. This is an issue for our county, for our residents, for our future.”
Legislator Steve Rhoads, who represents the 19th District, told the Herald the legislature still has “some serious questions” about Curran’s proposal that have not been answered. Rhoads explained that Curran had previously presented the legislature a recovery plan in May, that differed greatly from the one presented to them more recently.
“There was no explanation as to why these changes were made,” Rhoads said. “It is more restrictive than it was before. We still haven’t received answers from the administration on legislation she introduced at the last minute. We need to do our due diligence.
“There are a million other things we can do to help county residents,” Rhoads added. “We want there to be tax payer relief, and we want it to be effective. We should be talking about a lot more than $375 payments.”
The county received cares act money last year as well, that didn’t end up bringing widespread economic relief.
“That didn’t happen last year, and we’re going to make absolute certain that it does happen now,” he said.
According to Rhoads, the county has a $120 million surplus that could go towards tax relief, amongst other things. Additionally, the legislature wants to make sure the federal government approves the county’s proposed use of the relief funds.
“Its not that we don’t want to approve it,” he added. “We want to make sure this is the most effective way to do this.”
It is unclear at this time what the legislature will end up doing, according to Rhoads.
“This important legislation has been stalled, and was not even considered by the majority in the legislature in Nassau County — who held their last meeting almost a month ago on Aug. 2,” Curran said. “For folks like Cheri and Carter, this legislation cannot wait another day — never mind another two weeks before the legislature is scheduled to come back again.”