TOWN OF HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - A quirk in the formula for distributing federal COVID-19 aid has netted one town on Long Island with a windfall, but the much larger county it's in, Nassau, got far less money.
As CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reports, the Town of Hempstead is the largest in America with a population of 770,000. It's in Nassau County.
A demographics lesson is apparently needed in Washington, where the smaller town within the county got more COVID relief funds.
"It's an anomaly in the federal bill. You could interpret that the county was short changed," said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.
Curran pointed out that it's the county that pays for most of the first responder pandemic expenses.
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"The county is the entity with the health department, the medical examiner, the morgue, public safety, police etc. The ambulances, the medics that were really on the front lines, first responders for the pandemic," she said.
Hempstead is the only town in the nation with a population more than half million, enabling it to qualify for Cares Act funding, but a quirk in the law deducts its population from the larger county where it resides.
So, $133 million went to the town of Hempstead, and only $103 million to Nassau County.
"The federal government made this decision based on our population," said Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin.
Clavin said the funds are being carefully spent on food pantries for pandemic-caused food insecurity, PPE kits for small business, grants to hospitals, free testing and making beaches and parks safe.
Nassau County is politely asking for a share.
"It's around $50 million of police activity within the town of Hempstead. Nassau County police," Curran said.
"We are in discussions and we want to continue that great relationship. We want to do what's right for all the town residents," Clavin said.
Congressman Peter King says the county should have gotten much more money.
"It's a quirk in the law that no one says and it's one of those unintended consequences. The county should certainly be getting a lot more than the town," he said.
King said it shouldn't happen again.
The Town of Hempstead has until the end of the year to allocate the money or lose it.
Supervisor Clavin says every request is under careful review, including Nassau County's.
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