Hunterdon County Freeholder Director proposes $50K pandemic costs grant fund for towns
HUNTERDON COUNTY, NJ – Hunterdon County Freeholder Board Director Shaun Van Doren said he will be seeking approval of a nearly $50,000 pandemic costs municipal grant program for the county’s twenty-six municipalities.
“Our Mayors and local governing body members, and their workforces, have been on the frontlines in responding to the COVID-19 emergency. They deserve recognition and, more importantly, financial support for their efforts,” Van Doren said.
Under Van Doren’s proposal, if approved by the Freeholder Board, grants would be distributed on a per capita basis for each town up to a $5000 maximum. All Hunterdon County municipalities would be eligible for at least a $1000 grant.
“Earlier in the year, the county reserved $100,000 in the budget for pandemic costs. I believe sharing half of those funds with our municipalities is the right thing to do. We’re not going to solve the issue of response expenses, but the grants will help,” Van Doren said.
After the state authorized funds for the county from the federal CARES Act, Van Doren wrote to Governor Phil Murphy recommending also allocating funds “for our municipalities that have also been hard hit with unplanned, extra response costs.” There continues to be no response or action from the Governor on this request.
Van Doren, formerly a member of the Tewksbury Township Committee, said, “During the most intense period of the public health emergency, I believed it was important for the county and our local governments to be working together, communicating regularly, and sharing information and resources. Toward that goal I hosted a regular conference call with the county’s Mayors to provide updates, making the county’s Health Officer and the OEM coordinator available to the Mayors to provide current information and to strategize on the full government response to the outbreak.”
“I see the distribution of grant funds as an extension of that cooperative effort,” Van Doren said..