Hurricane Sandy devastated New Jersey, leaving many municipalities with massive and costly cleanup efforts. To help ease the burden on local budgets, Governor Chris Christie has signed an executive order allowing municipalities to tap into snow removal funds.
Under N.J.S.A. 40A:4-62.1, a local government may only use an established snow removal reserve for expenses related to snow and ice removal in a subsequent budget year. However, in light of the state of emergency declared in response to Hurricane Sandy, Executive Order No. 111 provides that, a local government unit that has established a snow removal fund pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:4-62.1, may, by resolution, utilize existing reserves necessary to protect the safety, security, health, and welfare, of its citizens from the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. Any reimbursement of these expenditures shall be deposited back into the trust fund.
Additionally other budgetary and procurement constraints are being relaxed in light of the declared state of emergency. As detailed in a recent Local Finance Notice issued by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Division of Local Government Services, purchases of goods and services in response to an emergency can be made without the necessity of public bidding.
Finally, funds appropriated and expended for emergency responses to Hurricane Sandy may qualify as levy cap exclusions upon submission and review of certifications to the Division. To qualify as “emergency,” expenses must relate to the response, recovery, and restoration of services due to the hurricane that were not anticipated in the current year’s budget. Only the portion of costs that exceed the cost of providing services under non-emergency conditions may be granted as levy cap exclusions.
For more information about minimizing the impact of Hurricane Sandy on municipal budgets, we encourage you to contact a member of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Public Law Group.