There is concern that funding for two community outreach workers in downtown Ithaca might be threatened due to economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ithaca Times reports that during a Downtown Ithaca Alliance meeting last month, there was a discussion about the possibility that Tompkins County might not make its yearly contribution for the outreach workers.  The program focuses on providing needed services to disadvantaged populations.

Family and Children’s Services of Ithaca operate the two community outreach positions. County Administrator Jason Molino allocated $20,000 for the program in the County’s 2020 budget. Eventually, the county met two over target requests of $25,000 and $ 15,000 for a total of $ 60,000.  The City of Ithaca, Downtown Ithaca Alliance and Ithaca Renting also contribute funds for the program.

Molino says that the county will not repeat the $20,000 allocation in the 2021 budget, and has not provided reserves for any over target requests.  Gary Ferguson, executive Director of the Downtown Ithaca Alliance affirms that his agency and the city would continue their contribution.

Tompkins County legislator Anna Kelles confirms that Molino did not include funding for the outreach workers in his 2021 base budget.  She adds that the program is highly regarded and successful, and that it is possible that her colleagues may call for the funding to be restored. 

The county legislature will vote on the budget later this month.

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New York state’s election administrators are preparing to account for an unprecedented number of absentee ballots, new voter protections and voter’s fears of disenfranchisement, The Albany Times Union reports. NY State Board of Elections’ Democratic co-chair Doug Kellner says CARES Act funds given to the election board for the primary election in June are mostly gone. 

Issues with voting vary depending on where one lives in the state. For example, postal issues in the primary election were concentrated downstate in more populated communities, but was not a problem in other regions. There were also problems with finding volunteers to work at the polls, because some of the usual volunteers were not able due to COVID. 

Those that fear their ballot won’t be counted are encouraged to vote early and in-person. Those who do not feel safe voting in person have to make sure to request and return an absentee ballot before November 3. 

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Looking at the local COVID-19 caseload, the latest numbers, released on Monday from the Tompkins County health department, indicate that there are 11 additional positives, and 5 new recoveries. According to the County Health Department, that leaves 42 active cases of COVID-19 in Tompkins.

In Schuyler County, 11 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Tuesday, according to their Health Department. In addition, there are now 4 Schuyler County residents hospitalized for the virus. 14 active cases remain.

Contributing writing by WRFI News Volunteer Esther Racoosin and News Intern Tessie Devlin