MIDDLESEX COUNTY – When the state Department of Community Affairs announced its “extraordinary aid” awards last Friday, Middlesex County mayors knew they shouldn’t expect much.
Last year, eight municipalities in Middlesex County with calendar-year budgets received a combined total of $1,275,000 in extraordinary aid. This year, only Milltown received an award — $50,000, only a third of the amount received last year.
Last year, Highland Park received $300,000. Metuchen and South River each received $200,000, Sayreville received $125,000, and Carteret, Middlesex and Helmetta each received $100,000. This year, they received nothing.
Mayor Thomas Vahalla of Metuchen said that he understood the DCA’s decision. “We are disappointed that we are not getting any money. But I understand fully. It’s the nature of the economy. It’s a difficult time for everyone.”
Carteret Mayor Daniel Reiman said, “I’m disappointed, but it does not surprise me.” Six years ago, Carteret received $800,000 in extraordinary aid, Reiman said. “Every year since it’s been been cut.”
Last year, the DCA distributed $14,933,000 in extraordinary aid to municipalities with calendar year budgets. This year, only $10,670,000 was distributed.
In March, the DCA awarded $1.7 million in extraordinary aid to Perth Amboy, part of $6,990,000 distributed to municipalities with fiscal year budgets.
According to a DCA press release, “Extraordinary aid is awarded to municipalities who, because of extreme circumstances, would not be able to provide essential services to the community without a substantial increase in their property tax rate.”
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