Sussex Borough’s American Rescue allotment will be used to pay New Jersey back

| 20 Aug 2021 | 06:31

Sussex. Sussex Borough is expected to receive more than $207,000 from the American Rescue Plan, but almost all of it will have to be paid back to a state program the borough participated it in to cover a utility shortfall in 2020.

Chief financial officer Michel Marceau said the borough is expected to receive a total of $207,767, with payments to come in two installments. The borough received its first payment of $103,884 on July 2.

The state has set rules for what the money can be used for, such as revenue replacement, upgrading broadband internet service, or improving the water system.

But the borough won’t be able to use the money for that purpose.

“Unfortunately, we took such a hit in the early stages of Covid-19 with utility collections that we had to declare an emergency,” Marceau said. “So, the state has propagated rules that say if you declared an emergency, that the money has to go to pay that off first to make as little impact to your taxpayers as possible.”

Marceau said it won’t make the borough whole. The borough ended 2020 with a $256,000 shortfall, which was lower than the initial estimate of $365,000.

Under the state program, the borough will have six years to pay off the remaining money.

“The good news is your residents aren’t going to have to foot the bill for that,” Marceau said. “The bad news is we won’t get to invest in anything like the water system.”