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Mayor Bhalla unveils Hoboken Rescue Plan

The plan will invest in the city's COVID-19 response and their infrastructure. Photo by Mark Koosau
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The plan will invest in the city's COVID-19 response and their infrastructure. Photo by Mark Koosau

Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla has unveiled the Hoboken Rescue Plan, a $13.2 million funding measure that will be used to invest in the city’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The $13.2 million comes from the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion federal COVID relief package that was passed in the U.S. Congress and signed by President Biden back in March. The money will be spent on the city’s COVID-19 efforts, as well as other investments in the city’s infrastructure. The city of Hoboken received a total of $27.2 million dollars from the relief package.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has provided challenges to all aspects of our lives in ways we never thought imaginable,” said Mayor Bhalla in a statement. “As we continue to adapt and recover, the Hoboken Rescue Plan will provide critically needed funding to protect our community and invest in our City’s infrastructure for years to come.”

More details about the plan were presented in a city council meeting on August 18 by Hoboken Business Administrator Jason Freeman. The plan includes:

  • $6.4 million in revenue recovery for the city’s 2021 budget.
  • $2 million for small businesses that applied for the city’s Small Business Grant Program.
  • $750,000 to create a Rental Assistance Program for residents that were impacted by COVID-19. The funding will also allow for expansion of the current Tenant Advocate position, which will allow for increased services and counsel for those with landlord-tenant issues.
  • $250,000 to expand the city’s COVID-19 response to provide more masks, testing, and vaccines for the city.
  • $100,000 in upgrades for the Hoboken Health Department to expand the office and relocate it to the Multi-Service Center.
  • $125,000 to upgrade the Information and Technology Department at city-owned facilities.
  • $1 million to install pressure gauges and leak sensors throughout the city’s water system.
  • $500,000 for a new microtransit system. The city will release a request for proposals for an on-demand microtransit system to provide additional transportation options for residents in the next few weeks.
  • $300,000 to expand the city’s installation of electric charging stations citywide.
  • $500,000 for organizations and nonprofits who helped address insecurities, housing, and other critical resources during the pandemic.
  • $150,000 to upgrade broadband and Wi-FI access in the Hoboken Housing Authority.
  • $250,000 to increase ambulance service in Hoboken.
  • $100,000 for quality-of-life initiatives such as road repair, litter, and storm recovery.
  • $200,000 to upgrade the city’s art, culture, and recreation programs.
  • $600,000 in financial incentives to encourage Hoboken municipal employees to get vaccinated.

The city lost revenue from a number of lines such as HPU transfer, construction code fees, parking tax, hotel tax, interest income, and other permits/fees. The $6.4 million will look to cover for the losses, and was approved as part of the city’s $124 million budget.

For the Rental Assistance Program, the city is working to adjust the eligibility criteria to increase applicants, and create a marketing campaign to encourage more applications.

In the $300,000 for the electric charging stations, the city will be adding six new stations and increase the number of charging ports to 22 citywide.

The water infrastructure spending will consist of two phases. Phase One will consist of installing 260 water leak sensors to monitor the system, and Phase Two will have the installation of 15 high-frequency pressure monitoring sensors. The city estimates that it will annually save them $80,000 in water main repairs and $100,000 in non-revenue water.

The city will make upgrades for the IT Department such as conference room upgrades, expansion of the scheduling system for each city department, digitization of remaining forms, and server upgrades at the Hoboken Fire Department.

The $600,000 for the vaccine initiatives will go into a new fund that will offer $1,000 for each municipal employee that can prove their vaccination. Employees that were vaccinated prior to the fund’s creation are eligible for the incentive. This comes after the city announced vaccination requirements for their employees or be subject to weekly testing.

The city reported that 66% of their municipal employees are fully vaccinated; that includes 63% of City Hall employees, 58% of the Police Department, and 79% of the Fire Department.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Mark Koosau can be reached at mkoosau@hudsonreporter.com or his Twitter @snivyTsutarja.

 

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