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Small town governments may seek FEMA aid to cover costs

Chautauqua County officials are working with their local governments to help them get federal dollars for costs in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even on the rural, small-town level of government, there have been costs to the crisis. That is separate from the potential revenue loss in the lost start to the tourist season, and maybe much more of it.

Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel said there is a state series of online briefings about FEMA money starting Tuesday, but many of the local governments in his county need some help with the federal rules and bureaucracy.

"You have to have a minimum of $3,300 in expenditures. So, what we're finding out is that a village may not have that, but a village and a town or the town's fire department, if they all go together into one town organization or one town claim, they will meet the threshold and will get the reimbursement," Wendel said.

Wendel says the biggest cost is personal protective equipment. So far, the county has been picking up most of those costs but the county will look to see if that can be reimbursed.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.