NEWTON, NJ – U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and New Jersey State Senator Steve Oroho (LD-24) on Saturday requested additional, critically-needed dollars from New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy for Warren and Sussex Counties. In a joint letter, they asked the Governor to deploy discretionary dollars New Jersey received through the federal bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
New Jersey can allocate discretionary resources to struggling municipalities that did not receive enough relief through formula-driven programs like the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG). These additional resources would allow towns in Warren and Sussex Counties to address urgent needs, continue providing essential health services for their residents, support front-line health care workers and first responders, and help their communities recover from the economic fallout caused by this public health crisis.
Warren and Sussex Counties will receive federal stimulus resources through the CARES Act to help local first responders, schools, and hospitals, in addition to the significant resources currently being distributed directly in rescue dollars to small businesses, non-profits, and individuals.
Utilizing long-standing, unchangeable, and automatic federal formulas, Warren and Sussex Counties, and their respective municipalities, did not receive federal funding through the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) set forth in the CARES Act.
Like other counties in the State, Warren and Sussex Counties did not meet any of the three criteria of these automatic, predetermined formulas: 1) counties with at least 500,000 people; 2) cities with populations over 50,000; or 3) “principal cities,” which is a Census formula designation.
“Beyond the set formulas which are out of our control, the State of New Jersey also received certain non-entitlement funding through the CDBG (more than $4 million) and ESG (more than $11 million) programs that you can allocate based on discretionary need throughout the State, particularly to help struggling municipalities that did not receive enough relief. We believe Sussex and Warren Counties meet that requirement and ask that you please immediately allocate the discretionary funding to these localities,” Gotttheimer and Oroho wrote in a letter to Governor Phil Murphy Saturday. “These two Counties remain in the so-called ‘hot’ region of the outbreak in our State and need this critical funding to get through the challenging next weeks and months. This funding will give municipal governments the flexibility to best address their most urgent needs, continue providing essential services for residents, and help their communities recover from the economic fallout caused by this public health crisis.”
The letter continued, “Separately, in the weeks ahead, as CARES Act resources are delivered through the State to local municipalities, we urge you to keep a watchful eye on what is directed to Sussex and Warren Counties. The federal legislation, among other relief dollars, has resources for local first responders, schools, and hospitals — not to mention what is currently being distributed directly in rescue dollars to small businesses, non-profits, and individuals. There is also a strong effort for the next round of emergency Coronavirus legislation, which we both support, to adjust any formulas that inadvertently exclude rural areas like ours. We’d be grateful for your public support of these changes.”
Gottheimer and Oroho noted that the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) has reported that the pandemic has not yet peaked in New Jersey and is expected to worsen in the coming weeks. The number of positive cases in Warren and Sussex Counties has steadily increased in the past days and weeks.