Wayne redirects $200K+ in relief to hospitality

By OWEN WALSH
Posted 12/30/20

HONESDALE , PA — To finish out its year, the Wayne County Commissioners approved spending the last of the county’s CARES Act funding down to a few cents leftover.

More than $200,000 …

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Wayne redirects $200K+ in relief to hospitality

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HONESDALE , PA — To finish out its year, the Wayne County Commissioners approved spending the last of the county’s CARES Act funding down to a few cents leftover.

More than $200,000 was originally slated for broadband expansion projects that did not come to fruition. Because of a strict end-of-the-year deadline for all CARES Act funding to be spent, money for projects that couldn’t be completed in time had to be reallocated elsewhere.

The commissioners decided to direct the roughly $206,000 as an additional round of relief for the county’s hospitality industry—two dozen businesses in total.

Since the beginning of the relief dispersal process, the commissioners have made specific efforts to support local restaurants and lodging businesses, both because of the specific restrictions and challenges the industry has faced from COVID-19 closures and because it employs a large percentage of the county’s residents.

“Those are the businesses that [were] most significantly negatively impacted by COVID over the year, as well as received very short notice that their businesses were going to be closed except for take-out,” commissioner Joe Adams said.

Chief clerk Andrew Seder also noted that, because of an impending deadline, the county didn’t have time to accept applications as it had during the first round of relief in the fall.

“With the time restrictions that we have from the state, we could not open it up for another round [of applications] because the time that we would need to review those applications would take us past the December 31 deadline,” he said. “We knew these businesses had been vetted, we had their financial statements, and we had to act fast.”

Chief financial officer Vicky Botjer said that, with the latest spending, the county had successfully used up as much funding as possible without returning a dollar to the state.

“We will have spent every single dollar without any hesitation by our deadline,” she said. “We were off 11 cents... on a total grant of $4.6 million.”

In other financial news, the county approved a $35 million budget for 2021 that includes no tax increase. Botjer and county treasurer Brian Fields opened bids for the county’s tax anticipation note of a maximum of $3 million. Out of the three local banks that submitted bids, Wayne Bank and Honesdale National Bank (HNB) both offered notably low interest rates of .79 percent. However, HNB narrowly won the tie, pending review by the solicitor, by offering zero cost at settlement, whereas Wayne Banked offered a $500 settlement cost.

Fields said that was the first he had seen two banks offer the same interest rate. Adams expected that this was because Wayne Bank had won the Pike County Commissioners bid the week before with .79, making the bids for Wayne County more competitive.

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