ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — On April 29, the Essex County Freeholder Board approved a resolution calling on Congress to expedite and pass all upcoming COVID-19 legislation providing financial assistance to county and municipal governments.
The freeholder board supported the previously passed CARES Act, which provided financial assistance to individuals, small businesses and state governments. However, there were a multitude of county and municipal governments that did not receive aid as part of the CARES Act. The resolution passed by the board calls on congressional leadership from New Jersey, as well as the overall leadership of Congress, to support any future legislation that will provide the necessary financial support to assist local governments with their relief and response efforts.
The resolution highlighted the fact that New Jersey, and specifically Essex County, has been hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis. Essex County has more than 14,000 positive reported cases and more than 10,000 initial unemployment claims, with more than 3,500 claims coming from Newark and nearly 1,000 from East Orange. Tragically, Essex County also has suffered 1,288 deaths as of May 4, which is more than any county in New Jersey.
County and local governments play critical roles in delivering much needed services to the people they serve, and the COVID-19 public health emergency has placed an incredible strain on local government budgets. First responders, overtime for health care employees, COVID-19 testing and food distribution events are all examples of priorities that have exhausted county and municipal financial resources in a way that could not be accounted for prior to the onset of COVID-19.
“Prior to sponsoring this resolution, my colleagues on the board and I were appreciative of the Senate and House for expediting the passage of the CARES Act,” Freeholder President Brendan Gill said. “However, as more federal legislation is proposed, Congress must keep in mind the critical role that county and local governments play in delivering services to our communities. Essex County, and each of our municipalities, are doing all we can to provide testing, adequate health care, food and basic services to our residents. Any financial assistance that can be provided from the federal government will certainly be appreciated.”