Report Projects North Country Counties Could Face $73 Million in Lost Revenue from COVID-19 Pandemic

Direct, Flexible, Federal Aid Needed to Avert Cuts to Services and Layoffs

Today the New York State Association of Counties announced that according to their recently updated economic impact report, North Country counties of Clinton, Franklin and Essex could see a combined loss of revenue of over $73 million over two fiscal years. These losses could lead to significant cuts to services and permanent layoffs, slowing the economic recovery and threatening gains made against the virus. 
“Communities in the North Country were just beginning to get their feet under them after the Great Recession when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Now these counties are facing massive drops in local revenue that will force cuts to local services and programs like transportation infrastructure improvement projects, county libraries and parks, senior meals on wheels, and human services unless Congress provides direct, flexible state and local aid,” said John F. Marren, President of the New York State Association of Counties and Chairman of the Ontario County Board of Supervisors.  

“Our local governments are facing an unprecedented financial crisis. Millions of dollars of lost revenue will lead to cuts in critical services provided by our first responders, health care workers, teachers, and public servants,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “With our economy in crisis, now is not the time for more hardworking Americans to lose their jobs. North Country communities are in desperate need of significant federal aid to recover and I will continue to fight for this essential funding in the next economic relief package.”

“Our North Country communities have been severely impacted by the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. “I have spoken with many local elected officials over the past few months and have heard their concerns. I continue to be a staunch advocate for direct state and local aid in any forthcoming legislative packages, and have raised this issue directly with House and Senate Leadership, as well as the Trump Administration, in order to ensure that the North Country has a fair shot. I fully understand how important direct funding will be to help our communities emerge from this crisis, and I will continue to advocate for our North Country interests as we overcome this challenge.”

“The North Country has already felt the impact of the coronavirus pandemic with cross-border commerce halted, businesses shuttered and unemployment skyrocketing. Without direct federal assistance, this dire situation will only get worse as local governments are forced to make permanent layoffs and eliminate local services that risk the health and well-being of our must vulnerable residents and jeopardize the economic recovery. Congress and the President must reach an agreement that provides direct, flexible aid to local governments so they can continue to lead the recovery and safe reopening of the North Country and all of New York State,” said Stephen J. Acquario, NYSAC Executive Director.  

In addition to the report's findings, data from the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance shows huge drops in sales tax, a key revenue source for counties, occurring during the March, April, May lockdown period as retail and tourist activity evaporated.

Counties had previously projected sales tax to grow during 2020 and 2021, deepening the impact of the losses in relation to maintaining essential services needed to contain the spread of the virus and revitalize the economy in a safe manner.

The Association's economic impact report notes that State and local governments are major employers and provide nearly 12 percent of all U.S. jobs. Economists have noted that in the last downturn, during the Great Recession, the federal government's austerity approach and prematurely ending financial assistance to states and local governments contributed significantly to the slow recovery, both in employment terms and contributions to gross domestic product.  

Data from the New York State Department of Labor shows that unemployment rates in Clinton, Essex and Franklin Counties have more than doubled from this time last year; from 4.2, 4.0 and 4.4 percent to 10.3, 10.5 and 11.1 percent, respectively.