Massena officials have come up with an effective way to use federal funds offered to replace revenue lost due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The village was notified that it will receive a little more than $1 million through the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. Half of it was paid this year, and the other half will be paid next year.

The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund allocated $350 billion to municipal governments. This was part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, passed by Congress and signed into law in March.

“The village of Massena will use American Rescue Plan Act funds to upgrade the information technology systems in the Massena Police Department and village offices,” according to a story published Nov. 28 by the Watertown Daily Times. “Trustees have approved using $131,000 of the village’s relief funds to upgrade the system in the Police Department and village offices and $48,024 for information technology services. [Former] Mayor Timothy J. Ahlfeld said the village had asked Twin State to review the village’s needs. Twin State handles IT services in village offices while a separate company is responsible for those services in the Police Department.

“The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 is a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill signed into law in March. Within ARPA, the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund provides $350 billion for states, municipalities, counties, tribes and territories, including $130 billion for local governments split evenly between municipalities and counties,” the article reported. “Among the possible uses for the funding is to invest in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure, making necessary investments to improve access to clean drinking water, support vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure and to expand access to broadband internet.”

Designating these funds to upgrade the village’s IT system is a wise move. Every local government depends on a strong IT mechanism to store data and circulate information.

Some aspects of technology become old very quickly. So it’s good to phase in new hardware and software to ensure the latest systems are used.

“One of the beauties of ARPA, the American Rescue Plan Act, is they recognize that there are holes in IT infrastructures, and that came to light when people had to work from home through this COVID crisis,” Ahlfeld was quoted as saying in the story. “So there’s monies available through ARPA funds that we can expend on cyber assets.”

It’s particularly important for IT systems to have the best protection from hackers. Upgrading Massena’s technology will give officials and staff members peace of mind that they’ll be able to guard against cyber-attacks.

It’s tempting for municipalities to use government funding for ongoing expenses. But on this page we’ve often advised public bodies to direct limited funding to one-time uses. This way, they won’t develop a spending need that they may not be able to address the following year.

We’re pleased to see Massena follow this formula. The IT systems will obviously need to be updated in the future.

But the federal money will take care of what issues the village has now. We commend officials for making such a prudent decision.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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