At their meeting lat night, Northampton County Council voted unanimously to adopt Executive Lamont McClure's "rescue plan" responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. "Let's finish the job," he argued. County Council authorized McClure to spend $30 million, all of which came directly from the federal government.
The county will receive a second installment of $30 million next year.
The lion's share of this year's money - $15 million - is earmarked for small businesses within the county. "Our small businesses need us," McClure said. Last year, County Council awarded $10.079 million to 766 mom-and-pop shops struggling to keep their heads above water in the middle of a statewide lockdown. Given the success of that program, administered by the Greater Lehigh Valley of Commerce, McClure would like it to continue. He envisions providing help to 1,000 businesses.
Between the money provided by the CARES Act last year and the American Rescue Plan this year, Northampton County Council will have spent $25 million on small businesses.
The remaining money is allocated as follows: $5 million for nonprofits; $1 million for the hotel tax grants; $1 million for GrowNorCo grants. (to help local municipalities fund police departments; $1 million for broadband at schools; $6 million rainy day fund for vaccines, testing, hazard pay and the creation of a PPE surplus; and $1 million for EMS and professional firefighter.
Council approved this allocation without comment.
In other business, Northampton County Council unanimously authorized the Civil Division to offer passport photos to customers who visit the office to apply for a passport. There will be a fee of $10.
Council also adopted unanimously a resolution prohibiting the use of tobacco products at county-owned playgrounds and similar facilities. So if you see some toddler lighting one up, you can have her tossed.
Finally, Council voted unanimously to endorse two contracts hiring Bethlehem lawfirm King Spry Herman Fruend & Faul as outside counsel for general outside legal work and worker's compensation cases at fairly modest hourly rates.