Gottheimer Announces 108% Increase in Federal Tax Dollars Clawed Back to NJ-5 Since 2016 to Help Lower Property Taxes & Claw Dollars Back from Moocher States

Average savings of $448 dollars per NJ-5 family for last year alone Above: Today, Gottheimer announced new Return on Investment reporting on the federal tax dollars clawed back to the Fifth District since 2016. GLEN ROCK, NJ - Today, August 12, 2020, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) announced that New Jersey’s Fifth District has clawed 108% more federal tax dollars back from Washington and the Moocher States since 2016.  For this past year alone, the federal tax dollars clawed back average out to a savings of $448 for each household in the Fifth District.

Through Gottheimer’s work with mayors, councils, first responders, and nonprofits, the Fifth District has realized a far better Return on Investment on the tax dollars North Jersey residents send to Washington every year. Read the new Return on Investment Report here.

Today, Gottheimer highlighted town successes across Bergen, Sussex, Passaic, and Warren Counties, particularly with the the GSA program, FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG), the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant, the LESO excess resources program, USDA Rural Development (RD) grants, and Non-Profit Security Grants (NSGP).

“In our current crisis, our county and town budgets are being stretched to the max, with local municipalities facing serious revenue shortfalls and budget gaps due to the pandemic’s impact on economic activity in North Jersey. While helping lower our property taxes has always been a focus of mine, clawing more of our federal dollars back to the Fifth District is now more important than ever,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) during today’s announcement. “I’m proud to announce that, since 2016, we are up 108% in what we’ve clawed back in our federal tax dollars. Thanks to utilizing grant opportunities in ways North Jersey hasn’t in decades, we’re working together to lower the property tax burden on our residents and to support our local communities.” 

Gottheimer was joined for today’s virtual announcement by Park Ridge Mayor Keith Misciagna, Fair Lawn Mayor Kurt Peluso, Lodi Mayor Scott Luna, Oakland Mayor Linda Schwager, Oakland Council President Lewis Levy, Haworth Mayor Tom Ference, Mansfield Fire Company #1 President Charlie Smith, Hackettstown BID Director Laurie Rapisardi, Park Ridge Fire Chief Tom Lepore, Sussex Borough Council President Robert Holowach, Sussex County Community College President Jon Connolly, Teaneck Fire Chief Jordan Zaretsky, Ringwood Deputy Mayor John Speer, and New Milford Fire Chief Bill Mury.

NJ-5 “Return on Investment” Highlights for the 2019 Calendar Year:

  • Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG): Twelve NJ-5 towns have clawed back more than $2 million in total AFG investment since 2016. For example, Allendale clawed back more than $183,000 to purchase 27 Self Contained Breathing Apparatus Kits (SCBAs). 
  • Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants (SAFER): NJ-5 towns have clawed back more than $630,000 in SAFER investments since 2016. These recipients include the Park Ridge Fire Department, which can now properly train six members of their force, as well as Mansfield Fire Company #1, which clawed back investment to help recruit members.
  • Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP): NJ-5 towns have clawed back more than $4.1 million in NSGP investment from 2016 to date, which provides grants to tax-exempt organizations like houses of worship, schools, and local nonprofits to boost security. For example, several of the temples and churches receiving NSGP investment succeeded in clawing back the maximum $100,000 amount, and in 2019 the first NJ-5 rural temple clawed back NSGP investment.
  • USDA Rural Development (RD) grants: In 2019 alone, NJ-5 towns clawed back more than $1.17 million in USDA RD investment. For example, Sussex Borough clawed back around $1 million to combat contamination at Lake Rutherford, as well as investment to renovate an ambulance vehicle. Even two rural households in NJ-5 clawed back $20,000 to make necessary repairs to make their home safer. Through USDA RD investment, Sussex County Community College was able to expand their academic programming to adapt to the demands of the modern job economy, and the Hackettstown Business Improvement District (BID) clawed back investment for the development of a public market facility.

Gottheimer’s Return on Investment team has visited all 79 towns in the Fifth District to raise awareness of the availability of federal grant dollars, written 12 congressional letters of support, convened 12 Mayor Summits to train local leaders on how to apply for grants, hosted 15 grant workshops, sent more than 4,000 letters and scores of emails to local leaders, and held more than 500 meetings with local officials.

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Gottheimer’s new Return on Investment Report can be found HERE.

Video of the announcement can be found HERE.

Gottheimer’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are below.

I’m very glad to be with all of you here today as we highlight the incredible dollar returns from Washington that, working together, we have been able to accomplish for our counties and communities here in North Jersey.

When I ran for Congress four years ago, it became clear to me pretty fast that one of the greatest challenges we faced was our overall cost of living. We have so much going for us here in Northern New Jersey — beautiful, safe communities, excellent schools and a brilliant work force, proximity to New York City, lakes, beaches, you name it. But, we all know that our taxes at every level — federal, state, property, you name it — are simply too high, and it’s forcing families out of the state and discouraging them from coming here.

The other big realization I had back then was that one way we could help get our property taxes down was to claw more of the dollars we sent to Washington every year back to our communities. You see, there are all of these grant programs out there for everything from firetrucks to security grants to protect churches and temples, but, historically, we just hadn’t applied for many of them. And the person in my seat didn’t push for them. The result was that all of these other states, that paid far less in federal taxes than we do, states that I call Moocher States, kept getting these grants, giving relief to their taxpayers, not ours.

Well, flash forward four years, and working together with mayors, councils, first responders, colleges, nonprofits, and religious institutions, and we are now up more than 108 percent in our federal tax dollars we’ve clawed back to Jersey, helping to lower our property taxes, and improve the Fifth District.

For example, just this last week, after the hurricane devastated so many of our towns, many of our communities utilized the generators they received to keep traffic lights on, used bucket trucks to help clean up the trees and debris on power lines, and our first responders had to roll out fire trucks and ambulances to help people.

And, by the way, that 108 percent ROI – return on investment — that I’m announcing today is only through 2019 — this past calendar year. It doesn’t include the firetrucks and nonprofit security grants we received this year or the hundreds of millions we’ve fought to get for North Jersey during COVID — for our hospitals, first responders, families and businesses, and counties and communities.

Aside from helping to lower our property taxes, increase safety, and support our local institutions during normal times, these dollars are particularly important now as our county and town budgets are being stretched to the absolute max, with local municipalities facing serious revenue shortfalls and budget gaps. So, while it’s always been a focus of mine, clawing back federal dollars is now more important than ever while our local communities combat this crisis.

That’s also why I’ve been working in Washington to fully reinstate our SALT deduction, which the most recent House-passed relief package does, to help reverse the SALT provision of the 2017 Tax Hike Bill, to actually lower our taxes and stop the double taxation on our families.  As a reminder, the Tax Hike Bill was jammed through in 2017 — adding insult to injury — gutting our State and Local Tax Deduction, or SALT, in effect raising taxes on our District. I’ve now helped pass two bills in the House to fully reinstate it, but we’ve been waiting on the Senate to act. Crickets.

I’ve also been fighting to change the transportation formulas that whack New Jersey out of federal infrastructure investment, and my Anti-Moocher legislation makes it clear that states like ours, that pay more in federal taxes, should get back more. Mississippi and Alabama get back $4.38 and $4.32 for every dollar they send to Washington and New Jersey gets back 67 cents.

Jersey has been treated like the Moocher States’ piggy bank — by paying everyone else’s tab for their roads, bridges, and first responders, while our taxes keep going up.

It’s a joke and it’s why we are fighting so hard for these grants and resources, to help even the playing field here. And on that note, with the latest COVID package negotiations, the fact that the Senate Majority Leader and others from Red States – from Moocher States – are refusing to help states like ours during the COVID pandemic is absolutely absurd. We are always there for them during a hurricane, flood, tornado – you name it – and we reach into our pockets to support their families. It’s only right that they do the same and stand by communities like ours that were in the eye of the COVID storm. Nearly 3,700 people died in the counties that make up my district. It’s a travesty.

Back to the progress we’ve made working together, utilizing grant programs in ways we haven’t in decades. I’m very pleased to announce, in a status report I’m releasing today, that, since 2016, since I’ve been in office, we are up more than 108% percent in what we’ve clawed back to New Jersey’s Fifth District — parts of Bergen, Sussex, Warren, and Passaic Counties.

That’s thanks to a massive rise in AFG, nonprofit security, federal agriculture investment, LESO, and other key grants. By clawing back more, we’ve lifted significant costs off of our town budgets and helped provide tax relief to our residents.

We’ve also been sending those dollars out, despite the fact that our own road infrastructure is the sixth-worst in the country. We are, however, making some headway. Parts of the Gateway Project have preliminary approval to move forward by the Administration, but a third of our bridges are still considered unsafe.

How have we increased our ROI by 108 percent? Well, at the core of it is something my dad always taught me: if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

So, we put together a plan to start asking, and it’s been working. We hired someone on my team, a Director of Return on Investment, who is responsible for finding every single federal grant dollar that our communities qualify for, and working with our towns, their leadership, first responders, and nonprofits to help them apply.

I think you’ve all met Lauren. She’s fantastic! Federal grants are a complicated process and you have to really dig around to find that agriculture grant or support to fight homegrown terrorists.

Since 2017, we’ve held twelve Mayor’s Summits — most recently our Mayor's Day in DC in February — and 15 grant workshops, and shipped more than 4,000 letters and scores of emails — making sure that towns know about approaching deadlines and best practices for applying for federal grants. I’ve hosted several mayors in Washington to meet with the grant-making departments to help advocate for their communities, and I’ve found that there’s nothing partisan about this. 

Getting our tax dollars back home is not a Democrat or Republican issue — it’s purely what’s good for Jersey.

For the 2019 calendar year — and you’ll see some of our overall top performers here — the 108 percent increase averages out to a savings of $448 for every household in the Fifth District — meaning dollars clawed away from the Moocher States and sent straight to us, here, to help firefighters put out a blaze, help protect from terror, and protect the children in our schools. That’s 108% more federal tax dollars clawed back for storm clean-up, generators and trucks, boats for floods, repairs, gear to help EMTs, and help emergency management.

This has been a true team effort — and with some newcomers. These are huge wins and we’re going to make sure we keep making remarkable progress

Here are some highlights of what’s helped make this a reality:

In 2019, Franklin Borough picked up $290,000 worth of equipment they clawed back through grant programs — including two electric kayaks, a scooter, a floor washer, and a forklift.

I was proud to be able to visit Franklin Borough in August of last year and heard about all of the amazing opportunities that this new equipment has afforded the Department.

Mahwah took one of the easiest steps that towns can take to claw back their taxpayer dollars — by signing up for a federal resource program that gets equipment sitting idly and that might otherwise be destroyed, to local first responders.

A similar program with the Government Services Administration transfers surplus equipment from other branches of the government to local public works departments.

So, that’s how Oradell is getting equipment, like a rescue truck, radios, and medical supplies, to help them now.

This equipment, if not recouped by our towns, will either go to other states taking advantage of the program, or be destroyed.

We have already paid for this equipment out of our federal taxes and it's our obligation to fight to get what’s available and necessary here to Jersey.

The excess equipment program includes items like flashlights and first aid kits for our cops and electrical generators for emergency responders and families who’ve lost power during major storms, like this most recent one. It also included basic supplies like copiers and computers, that are essential for first responders to do their jobs. Overall, this equipment helps us focus more of our town budgets on resources to help improve our communities and to keep our families safe from lone-wolf terrorism. Flood-lights that boroughs like Midland Park received ensure that first responders will know what’s going on at emergency sites or help with local construction projects. These federal programs are also helping us deal with the pandemic by distributing surplus supplies from this program to New Jersey to help fight the coronavirus.

Working with my office, thirty new towns have now enrolled in some of these federal programs since I’ve been in office — to claw back more of those federal dollars and provide some relief to their property tax budgets. That’s a big deal. Thirty new towns!

Through these equipment and resources programs, overall across the Fifth District, we’ve received $2.23 million more than our past returns.

That’s $9.97 million saved in local government budgets, $35 saved per household, which is savings to our taxpayers, since these items don’t have to come out of the town budget. In Ringwood, and we have Deputy Mayor John Speer here with us today — who, along with the Mayor and Council — have all encouraged the town to participate in these programs and acquire tools the town needs.

Today, of course, we’re here on video, but we would have been in Park Ridge, where Mayor Keith Miscagnia and his team have clawed back more than $86,000 during 2019, and they’ve received a dump truck as well as several utility backpacks, and $10,000 from the SAFER grant program. Getting two grants within a calendar year is incredible and I want to thank Mayor Misciagna for his leadership. They continue to apply for many grants, and I have and will continue to send support letters on their behalf — and that goes for any town in the District.

These are all items that the borough was going to have to pay for out of its budget. Instead, they clawed back those dollars from the federal government, and helped save their taxpayers on their property tax bills.

Haworth, under Mayor Ference — who’s joining us today — has clawed back more than $68,000 through these programs. I know Mayor Ference and Haworth are happy to have that savings back in their budget.

Belvidere’s Mayor Kennedy, as we know, has been a real leader in saving taxpayers’ money, and continues to participate in the equipment and GSA programs for every Belvidere family. They continue to pursue all programs and grants that are available to them. Even better, over the past year, Belvidere has also made money by selling equipment they’ve acquired for free. 

We also have some newcomers, like Allendale and Mansfield, which have clawed back FEMA grants in 2019 — both for the first time ever.

Hackensack, Closter, Hillsdale, Lodi, Fair Lawn, Oakland, Emerson, Maywood, Westwood, Allendale, Bergenfield, Dumont, New Milford, Haworth are just a few towns that have all seen tremendous success, and I’m honored to have been able to work with so many of their mayors.

But, we still have a long way to go to fully leverage the equipment and GSA programs. While Belvidere, Franklin Borough, Newton, and Vernon mayors are on board, there’s more to do in Sussex and Warren. I’ll continue to work with the mayors, councils, and first responders in Sussex and Warren Counties to see how more towns can get involved and how I can support them.

Overall, with 65 computers, 10 generators, 204 first-aid kits, 14 radios, 735 pieces of medical supplies, a scooter, and two sets of extrication tools delivered to our communities, without hitting the property tax line.

We’ve also seen successes in more competitive grant programs like the SAFER and the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, or AFG.

These FEMA grants help firehouses across the United States upgrade or purchase new equipment, vehicles, workplace training, recruitment, and other fire prevention activities. Here today from Park Ridge is Chief Lepore, and they’ve clawed back investment through the SAFER grant — congrats Chief and amazing job.

I am proud to announce that we have increased our return of life-saving equipment here to the district through the AFG program, more than $2.1 million back to the Fifth District.

We have had huge wins in communities like New Milford, where they’re getting a new fire truck worth more than a million dollars, but saving taxpayer money by being awarded a major AFG grant. Last month, I was able to visit the new truck, and it’s incredible!

In Belvidere, the Mountain Lake Fire Company has done an amazing job clawing back AFG grants for SCBAs.

Team Gottheimer got to attend the celebration back in May 2019 to see the new packs.

In Wantage, they’ve clawed back more than $175,000 for personal protective equipment and other critical equipment for their fire departments.

In Allendale and Mansfield, each fire department received FEMA grants for the very first time.

I visited both departments and I know both communities were thrilled with the investment and continue to do a great job expanding their opportunity to claw back resources. 

And in Teaneck, I announced, alongside Congressman Bill Pascrell, that the Teaneck Fire Department was awarded a $45,000 federal investment for equipment to decontaminate firefighters’ gear and help prevent cancer.

In Dumont, I’ve met with EMTs there to discuss how these grant opportunities can benefit their borough and their emergency departments, and how I can help them from the federal level with that process and support their grant application along the way

I’ve also met with the Newton Fire Department, encouraging the department to apply for these grant opportunities to get more dollars and needed safety resources back to the town.

To claw back USDA dollars, Sussex and Warren Counties have both really taken the lead.

In 2019 alone, Sussex and Warren communities and organizations clawed back over $1.5 million dollars in grants to help improve businesses, create better access to clean water, help combat food insecurity, improve the homes of our senior and disabled population, and much more.

Sussex Borough Council President Holowach — who is here with me today — for a shout out to Sussex Borough for clawing back one of the largest USDA grants in NJ-5 history: over $1 million dollars to Lake Rutherford Water Improvements Project. Absolutely amazing!

Sussex County Community College President Jon Connolly is also here today, who has helped lead the College in going after federal grant dollars, ultimately clawing back $50,000 to implement a new academic curriculum. Such an amazing job!

I know this amazing effort at SCCC could not have been accomplished without the astute leadership of their Dean of Program Advancement for New and Strategic Initiatives & Community Education, Dominic Carbone — who sadly passed away earlier this year from COVID. President Connolly, my sincerest condolences to you, the College, and to Mr. Carbone’s family for the loss of such an incredible individual.

Some other USDA grant highlights within today’s announcement:

To support single family housing, Fifth District constituents in Vernon and Stockholm received grants to fix their homes.

To help community facilities, Sussex Borough was awarded federal investment to renovate an ambulance vehicle.

For Hackettstown Business Improvement District, a pillar in the Warren County community for business development, they received a planning grant for a public market facility. Laurie Rapisardi, the new Director of Hackettstown BID — who is here today — thank you for everything you are doing for those businesses and I look forward to seeing this project grow

The Fifth District is also continuing to claw back federal investments in counterterrorism and nonprofit security for local organizations.

This investment comes from the Nonprofit Security Grant Program through FEMA, to invest in security for certain tax-exempt organizations — like houses of worship, schools, and local community organizations — that are at risk of a terrorist attack from homegrown and lone-wolf white supremacists and ISIS-inspired terrorists.

At an event last month, we detailed that, to date, we have clawed back more than $4.1 million back to NJ-5 through nonprofit security grants since 2016 — dollars to protect our institutions, the most in the state. That includes 27 religious institutions, schools, and local non-profit organizations.

Safety and security in our places of worship and at our schools are at the bedrock of the American idea and we must do everything we can to protect them. Part of what makes America the greatest country in the world is our ability to practice our faiths in the manner in which we choose, and educate ourselves, free from violence.

During this past calendar year, eight temples and churches received this federal investment — in Teaneck, Newton, Fair Lawn, Paramus, and Park Ridge — and we saw the Fifth District’s first rural temple win a grant.

Several of these organizations succeeded in clawing back the maximum amount of $100,000, which is a great achievement.

Thanks for joining me for this announcement today.

As you’ve heard, it is incredible that North Jersey has had a 108% increase in the federal tax dollars clawed back to the Fifth District since 2016 — a savings of $448 for every household in the Fifth District this past calendar year.

I’m so glad that so many of our North Jersey governments are taking advantage of these programs to help their town budgets and better serve their communities.

North Jersey truly benefits from this investment because our brave first responders are better prepared to respond to crises like this pandemic and the most recent tropical storm, and our communities are safer and they’re saving taxpayer dollars in the process.

I’m committed to working harder every year, to continue to identify and fight for even more grants for the Fifth — through nonprofit security grants, agriculture investment, and other federal programs — to boost our return on investment for New Jersey and claw back our taxpayers’ dollars. At the same time, I’m committed to rooting out all wasteful government spending and to do everything possible to cut our taxes.

Thank you to everyone joining me today, for your public service, and for supporting your towns. We must continue to work together to claw more back to North Jersey, especially right now.

Thank you and God bless you and God bless the United States of America.