How to Spend $57 Million

Dutchess Stadium tops list of projects receiving COVID funds

Dutchess County is making national news lately for the wrong reason.

Within the last month, both The New York Times and The Associated Press have published stories about controversial local projects being funded with money from the federal American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package approved in March 2021 by Congress and President Joe Biden.

Both stories highlighted the decision by County Executive Marc Molinaro and the Legislature’s Republican majority to allocate $11.6 million of Dutchess’ $57.1 million in ARP funding for renovations at Dutchess Stadium, a county park.

The ballpark, home to the Hudson Valley Renegades, a New York Yankees’ minor league affiliate, will get a new clubhouse, pitching and batting facility and a premium club space and seating area. The Legislature also unanimously approved spending $630,000 in ARP funds to buy the land beneath the stadium from the Beacon school district.

The stadium spending represents Dutchess County’s largest ARP-funded project, according to a report released by Comptroller Robin Lois, a Democrat, on March 31. Dutchess received its first installment of ARP funding, $28.6 million, on May 24. The second installment, for the same amount, is expected next month.

Congress imposed two limits on ARP spending: It cannot be used to contribute to pension funds or to cut taxes. The U.S. Treasury also issued guidelines for local governments on acceptable uses, which include:

To respond to the pandemic or its economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses and nonprofits, or to provide aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel and hospitality;

■ To provide extra pay to workers who performed essential work during the pandemic;
■To pay for government services that had a reduction in revenue because of the pandemic; and
■ To invest in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure.

“Large capital expenditures intended for general economic development or to aid the travel, tourism and hospitality industries — such as convention centers and stadiums — are, on balance, generally not reasonably proportional to addressing the negative economic impacts of the pandemic,” the Treasury said.

As of Dec. 31, Dutchess had budgeted $34 million of the funds and spent or allocated $8.5 million, according to the comptroller’s report.

“Investment in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure is surprisingly low at $1.7 million, particularly compared to the stadium spending,” noted Lois.

Where Money Will Go

YOUTH

Learn, Play, Create$3 million
Nine rounds of grants in 2021 went to nonprofits that work with children and teens, including the Beacon Performing Arts Center ($15K), Beacon Soccer Club ($20K), Howland Public Library ($50K) and I Am Beacon ($20K).

Summer Employment Program$100,000
This outlay offers funding for nonprofits, such as the Poughkeepsie Farm Project, the Art Effect of the Hudson Valley and Hudson River Housing, to hire underserved teens.

Youth Opportunity Center$10 million
These funds cover about 40 percent of the cost of a new $25 million center in Poughkeepsie.

PARKS

Stadium Additions$11.6 million
Along with a $900,000 state grant, this money will fund an $8.4 million clubhouse; $2.9 million club space and bullpen relocation; $225,000 for a sign near I-84; and a $975,000 pitching/batting facility for the Hudson Valley Renegades, who are affiliated with the New York Yankees. A 25-year lease agreement signed in June allowed the Renegades to back out if the Legislature did not provide $12.5 million for stadium improvements.

Land Purchase$630,000
This money will be used to purchase the land beneath Dutchess Stadium from Beacon school district.

Parks Projects$5 million
This money will pay for more free amenities, such as splash pads, playgrounds and walking and biking trails.

JOBS, INFRASTRUCTURE, PUBLIC SAFETY

Emergency Communications System$6 million
This money will fund the development, installation and deployment of a two-way radio system that will provide “a coordinated platform” for emergency services, according to Molinaro.

Micro-Marketing Program$284,250
These funds will provide aid to 45 small businesses that are mostly owned by disadvantaged and underserved populations such as women, minorities and veterans.

Build Now-NY$350,000
This money will be used to provide “shovel-ready certification” for high-tech manufacturing, warehouse/distribution and business and technology parks near the Hudson Valley Regional Airport in the Town of Wappinger.

Leisure and Hospitality Skills Training$150,000
These funds will be used by Dutchess Tourism and New York State Technology to train displaced workers.

Skills Training Facility$1.2 million
This money will fund a 10,000-square-foot regional
center at the southern Dutchess Community College
campus in Fishkill.

High-Speed Internet/Broadband$1 million
This money will be used to hire a consultant to conduct a survey and gap analysis ($350,000) and address the most critical needs it identifies ($650,000).

Water Storage$730,000
This money will help pay for a facility for the Central Dutchess Transmission Line, Dutchess County Airport Water Line and Hudson Valley Regional Airport, and “extend the availability of potable water to more communities,” according to Molinaro.

COMMUNITY

Agency Partner Grants$3 million
These funds will be distributed to nonprofits to provide “programs and services to residents who are most in need as a result of the pandemic,” according to Molinaro.

Homeless Housing & Case Management$6.07 million
This money will be used to purchase and rehab a Poughkeepsie building to provide emergency housing.

Municipal Investment Grants$1 million
This money will fund projects in the towns of
Beekman, Dover, East Fishkill, Hyde Park, Milan, Pine Plains and Poughkeepsie and the Village of Millerton.

Behavioral Health RV$150,000
This money will help fund a mobile unit to provide health and behavioral health services.

Rehiring Public Sector$4.6 million
These funds will pay the salaries and benefits of employees hired over the next three years to replace those who left during pandemic budget cuts such as through early retirement offers. Ninety-six positions were kept vacant in the 2021 county budget.

Premium Pay$1.73 million
These funds will provide pay of up to $13 per hour to a maximum of $1,000 to county employees for essential work during the pandemic.

Administration$500,000
These funds will cover the work of employees to distribute and monitor ARP funding.

Sources: “The American Rescue Plan Act: State and Local Funding Breakdown,” Rockefeller Institute of Government (rockinst.org), March 24; “Special Report: Dutchess County American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Update,” Office of the Dutchess County Comptroller, March; “Dutchess Invests: Investing American Rescue Plan Funds in Our Community,” Dutchess County Executive, 2021

One thought on “How to Spend $57 Million

  1. $11.6 million of Dutchess’ $57.1 million in ARP funding for renovations at Dutchess Stadium, a county park? Really? Shame on you.