The Bayonne City Council has passed a resolution creating a committee that would oversee the approximately $39.2 million that Bayonne has received in COVID-19 Recovery Funds. The resolution was proposed by City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski at the June meeting.
CARES Act spending
At the meeting, residents’ questions prompted discussion of CARES Act funding, which was distributed at the height of the pandemic in 2020. Ashe-Nadrowski said that a majority of the approximately $9 million was spent on the city itself.
According to Ashe-Nadrowski, approximately 65 percent of the relief money was spent on municipal salaries, which equates to almost $6 million of the funds. She said approximately $2 million went to small businesses, and the rest went to other COVID-19 related needs, including virus testing and personal protective equipment (PPE).
When residents questioned why CARES Act funding was spent on salaries when salaries are supposed to be budgeted, Ashe-Nadrowski said that the council does not make those decisions. She added that the decisions were made “quickly” by the city during the state of emergency, and did not need council approval.
This time around, the council wants a say.
“The state of emergency is over, and the recovery money requires more long-term strategic planning,” Ashe-Nadrowski said in a statement. “I would like to see more of a focus on getting the money out into the community and helping businesses and residents.”
Ashe-Nadrowski’s resolution establishing the oversight committee passed unanimously.
The committee would consist of the council president, another council member, the Public Safety Director, the Department of Public Works Director, the Chief Financial Officer, the Business Administrator, and Ken Poesl, a board member of the Bayonne Equal Opportunity Fund.
The council has been looking into forming a committee since Ashe-Nadrowski first mentioned the idea at the council’s March meeting.
“After watching firsthand the negative impacts that COVID-19 had on our community, I felt the need to take initiative,” Ashe-Nadrowski said. “This committee will work together to ensure that residents and businesses receive the funding that they deserve.”
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