New York comptroller launches portal to track COVID-19 spending

·3 min read

New York now has a new online dashboard indicating the amount of COVID-19 relief funding the state has received and how much it has disbursed.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli unveiled the tracker in a statement this week. In addition to monitoring federal funds, including those earmarked for state and local recovery and emergency aid to renters and homeowners, it also tracks allocations for state-run excluded workers and small business assistance funds.

With billions of dollars allocated to New York, DiNapoli said he wants to provide “full transparency” regarding how officials spend those funds.

“My office will follow the money to ensure federal funds are getting where they are supposed to go and being spent in smart and efficient ways to help New York’s recovery,” he said.

The comptroller’s office will update the numbers on a monthly basis.

Through the end of September, the tracker shows New York has received $13.1 billion of the $13.5 billion expected in federal aid for state and local governments. However, only $387.1 million of that has been spent.

The American Rescue Plan Act gives government leaders until Dec. 31, 2024, to allocate that funding.

Other funding programs fall under tighter deadlines. For example, federal officials awarded states and select communities two rounds of funding for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The program called for states to allocate at least 65 percent of the first phase by the end of September.

New York has received about $1.7 billion of the more than $2.8 billion Congress awarded out of the two spending bills. While only $696.4 million has been spent as of Sept. 30, state officials have actually allocated about $1.6 billion. Gov. Kathy Hochul said that she has requested additional funding to cover more renters in need.

Other programs currently on the dashboard include: Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief ($14.7 billion expected, $924.5 million received, $937.1 million spent); Coronavirus Relief Fund ($5.1 billion, $5.1 billion, $3.9 billion); Child Care Services ($2.5 billion, $143.2 million, $151,5 million); Homeowners Assistance ($539.5 million, $53.9 million, $50 million); and the state-funded Small Business Recovery ($1.6 billion available , $207.6 million spent) and Excluded Workers Fund ($2.1 billion, $968.5 million).

The state closed the application window for the Excluded Workers Fund last Friday and said it expects the funding to be exhausted by the end of this month.

The tracker was well received by government watchdog organizations.

“The public deserves to know how and when its money is being spent, and this provides much-needed insight into a broad range of important relief and recovery programs,” said Andrew S. Rein, president of the Citizens Budget Commission. “The massive influx of federal aid provides great opportunities, but only if it is managed well and drives results.”

Several observers said they hoped future versions would include more information, and DiNapoli’s statement said additional spending programs and data will be included as it becomes available.

Betsy Gotbaum, executive director of Citizens Union, said the dashboard will help the public understand how tax dollars are being spent.

“We appreciate the Comptroller’s commitment to transparency and look forward to more detailed disclosure so the public can further track how money is being spent,” she said. “We encourage local governments to create similar trackers so taxpayers can see how the funds that have been distributed to counties and municipalities are being spent, as well.”

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Tags: News, New York, State

Original Author: Steve Bittenbender | The Center Square

Original Location: New York comptroller launches portal to track COVID-19 spending