The Sussex Borough Council on Dec. 15 approved participation in a state program that will help them cover revenue shortfalls caused by COVID-19.
Michel Marceau, the borough’s chief financial officer, said it’s a tool provided by the state for municipalities experiencing revenue shortfalls, mostly because of the pandemic. He said the borough brought in $160,000 less than it budgeted for.
The program allows the borough to pay back the shortfall over five years starting in 2022. Otherwise, it would have to be made up in the 2021 budget. The shortfall is strictly the result of collections; Marceau said it’s mostly caused by people not paying their water and sewer utility bills. The only enforcement option open to the borough is to shut off service, but executive orders from Gov. Phil Murphy prevented municipalities taking that action until March 15, 2021.
Marceau said the borough could decide not to use the program, but the ordinance sets them up to do so if they choose.
“You can throw out all the old rules surrounding emergency appropriations,” Marceau said. “I’ve never seen before where they’ve allowed it for a shortage of revenue. This is all new for everyone, which is why the state wants us to pass these ordinances right away.”
“This is going to continue to carry and only get worse until the economy comes back, jobs come back, and people come back to work,” said the borough council president, Robert Holowach. “All three things are out of our control.”