Legislators accept $211K in funds

JOHNSTOWN — Fulton County legislators recently voted to accept $211,043 in state funding for the county’s Community Services Department.

The state has been flush with cash recently, giving back funding it previously took from counties. The situation was again reported at the Fulton County Board of Supervisors’ Human Services Committee session at the County Office Building.

Community Services Director Ernest Gagnon requested the panel approve a proposed resolution to amend the 2021 county budget and accept additional mental health funds withheld by New York state.

The committee approved the resolution, which goes before the full board Monday.

He said the $211,043 in funding from the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, state Office of Mental Health, and state Office of Persons with Developmental Disabilities must be expended by the end of 2021.

Gagnon said the funding represents a 20 percent “withhold” done previously by New York state in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic decreasing state tax revenues in the state’s 2020-21 budget, but later restored.

“At the time, they said we’ll pay you later,” Gagnon said.

Now this funding needs to immediately distributed to local agencies, he said. There will be no Fulton County match required, he said.

“This is all 100 percent state and federal funding,” Gagnon said.

In other business, county Veterans Service Agency Director Dan Engel reported on a new federal bill – H.S. 1276 – signed into law March 24 by President Joe Biden. He said it is called the “Save Lives Act” and is focused on increasing COVID-19 vaccination access to veterans and their families.

He said the law is currently not being implemented.

“There’s no income limits,” Engel said.

When it is administered, he said it will involve administering COVID-19 vaccinations to all veterans, regardless of whether the veteran is enrolled in the Veterans Health Administration. Also, Engel said it will involve administering COVID-19 vaccinations to the spouses of veterans, even if the spouse is not currently participating in any of the VA’s Family Caregiver Programs.

Engel said VA clinics are awaiting guidance from leadership in Washington D.C., as well as Veterans Health Administration headquarters in Atlanta before the program is administered.

It is going to be somewhat facility-specific, Engel said, depending on the COVID-19 vaccine supplies available.

He encourages all local veterans who need the vaccine to contact the Fonda VA Clinic.


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