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Hunterdon Freeholders call on federal officials to make county a priority in next stimulus package


Hunterdon County Freeholders have called on New Jersey’s U.S. Senators and U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski to ensure that the next round of federal economic stimulus aid gives priority to small population counties like Hunterdon, which was cut out of the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, along with six other New Jersey counties, because of having populations under 500,000.

“Congress’ decision to limit stimulus funds to just localities with populations of 500,000 or more, resulting in Hunterdon County, along with six other New Jersey Counties, being shut out of funds designed to bolster local economies, was a poor decision,” Freeholder Board Director Shaun C. Van Doren wrote in an April 5 letter to the federal representatives.

Van Doren’s communication to U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker and Malinowski stated, “The coronavirus does not respect county borders, as every individual matters and is facing this crisis, wherever they live. Funds should have been directed on a per capita basis, ensuring all areas of the state received a fair share.”

Fourteen New Jersey counties are sharing $31,961,123 in federal stimulus funds for economic development and infrastructure via the CARES Act, while seven counties received no direct county funding.

Van Doren noted that there continues to be discussions regarding another federal stimulus package.

“If that is the case, it is imperative that the areas with smaller populations, like Hunterdon County, that have been left entirely out of the first round of stimulus funding, be given priority status in the next stimulus bill considered by the Congress,” he wrote.

The Freeholder Board last Tuesday approved a measure expanding the County’s Economic Development Grant program to include nonprofit business associations, in addition to municipalities, in an attempt to help local small businesses.