Lebanon The Naughty County

Wolf Sends Message To 66 Counties In Pennsylvania

66 of the 67 Pennsylvania Counties have received federal funding. Wolf is withholding $13 million in federal funding from Lebanon County. Wolf said it isn’t punishment. [Unnamed] State department of health officials said Lebanon County…

Lebanon County excluded from CARES funds; rules should have been followed: Gov. Wolf

Updated Jul 16, 2020; Posted Jul 16, 2020

By Jana Benscoter | jbenscoter@pennlive.com

The two out of three Lebanon County Commissioners who voted to reopen the county during the coronavirus pandemic before they got the directive from the state should have listened to the rules, Gov. Tom Wolf said at a press conference on Thursday.


Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf And State Department of Health Dr. Rachel Levine

‘Total payback’: Lebanon County to stay in yellow phase; all other counties move to green

The county is losing out on $13 million in federal funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, known as the CARES Act, according to a letter written by Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Karen Groh.

Approved by Congress in March, the act was passed to help ease the looming financial burden of businesses, nonprofits, and government entities from state-required shut down orders meant to flatten the novel coronavirus curve. Lebanon didn’t wait for the governor’s administration’s approval to reopen.

“Lebanon County made the threat, I mean there were other counties that made the threat, but they actually didn’t go through with it,” Wolf said.

County governments are eligible to receive COVID-19 County Block Grant Program funding through the state department of Community and Economic Development. The latest update on federal funds to Lebanon County shows that there isn’t any in the pipeline for the rest of the year.

U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser also supports the same efforts as Groh. He wrote a letter to Wolf on July 15 saying withholding available funds from Lebanon County is a contradiction of the act’s purpose.

“While Act 24 outlines that all counties shall receive formulaic funding based upon population, DCED added additional requirements requiring counties to follow all state-issued closure orders to guarantee eligibility,” he wrote. “This is in direct conflict with the legislative intent of the parameters of the County Relief Block Grant program.”

All counties should stand to receive the financial support, Meuser wrote.

“Sixty‐six of 67 counties have received their funding and are working quickly to infuse it into their local economies, helping thousands of businesses, non‐profits, municipalities, and more,” Groh wrote. “Lebanon County is the only one left in Pennsylvania that has not received the money as promised by the Federal Government.”

State department of health officials said Lebanon County got ahead of Wolf’s reopening strategy. They said that was evident in the number of increased cases reported there of people contracting COVID-19. Lebanon was among the last of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties to be allowed to lift restrictions.

Wolf’s message to the county’s leaders, “OK, then don’t come say you want something from the state, uh, when you haven’t followed the rules.” He also said it isn’t punishment.

“There are consequences, and these are the consequences,” Wolf said. “I think I’m being consistent here.”

But, Lebanon’s business community is pushing back.


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