HERKIMER, N.Y. - The Village of Herkimer is one of thousands of small municipalities struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. The village's mayor says he is working to help residents and a hotline has been set up to help small businesses.
The Village of Herkimer has been under a state of emergency since March 27. Mayor Mark Netti declared the state of emergency to have the flexibility to take whatever steps necessary to protect the village.
"It gives me a little bit of flexibility to make judgment calls on certain things like curfews and things like that," Netti said. "Also, it helps us financially to prepare for what's going to happen after this."
Netti says his biggest concern during this pandemic is what comes next. He says he is preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.
"We have already spoke with FEMA, there is going to be FEMA recovery money for stuff, plus the stuff the federal government has given the governor for small municipalities," Netti said.
With so many people not working right now, Netti says he is not sure if some residents will be able to pay their taxes in June.
"If they can't make their taxes, they can't make them," Netti said. "I mean I understand that whole heatedly, I am thinking about a few ways to help them out with that but this is my goal, to make us whole and give the residents the safety that they deserve."
Netti is doing what he can to help residents and there has been a hotline set up to help small businesses.
"JGK has partnered with Nick Ricci, CPA, out of New Hartford and they are offering assistance, they're not going to write anything, but if people have questions about this SBLA that could possibly turn into a grant, if they do it right, he wants to assist them with advice," Netti said.
In January, the village hired JGK as a consultant to work on a strategic economic development plan with the village before the coronavirus pandemic started. Right now, that has been stalled a bit, so that's why they are helping small businesses in the village.
Those seeking advice are asked to call 315-535-2222. Netti says those who call will be asked their name, business name, contact information and a description of what kind of assistance they are seeking.
"It will be a wonderful thing because it can maybe save some of the businesses that can't be saved," Netti said.
Another obstacle the village is facing is balancing the budget.
"Office staff is cut to a minimum, it makes it a little difficult to do the budget," Netti said. It doesn't look that bad, we have to do what we have to do to keep the taxes down, I would love to reduce taxes, but might not be able to but we can work with what we can for the people of the village."
A tentative budget is due April 15.