BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Bridgewater Township recently obtained more than a half million dollars in funding aid, as a result of the municipality’s ongoing battle with COVID-19.

The township received $545,860 from the Local Government Emergency Fund through the New Jersey CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), according to a news release issued Jan. 6.

“I would like to thank our hard working and dedicated township staff who were diligent enough to realize all of the funds that the township was eligible for through this program,” said Mayor Matthew Moench in the release, which was issued the day after the aid was awarded.

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Bridgewater submitted nearly $800,000 in eligible COVID-19 related expenditures in its application for the aid. The submission also ensured the township would receive the maximum allowable allocation of $545,860.

The Local Government Emergency Funds were made available to those municipalities who were not included in the federal government’s direct CRF allocation plan, along with those counties and municipalities that were the most impacted at present, in comparison to their available resources.

The maximum distribution of the funds was determined by an allocation formula that was based on several criteria for the applying municipalities, including local COVID-19 infection rate; township population; fiscal stress on the municipality; the municipal revitalization index; and public safety, public health and human services-related expenditures, as a percentage of the total budget.

“From employee time to additional materials that were needed to fight this pandemic in 2020, we could have submitted hundreds of thousands more for reimbursement than this program allowed, and I certainly hope that more funds become available in the future," Moench said.

According to deputy township administrator Wells Winegar, these funds were secured for township money spent in fighting the pandemic, such as purchases of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) like masks, plus salary and wages for employees who had to spend time dealing with the pandemic.

Bridgewater is also still in the application process for $220,449 from the Community Development Block Grant program.

The Bridgewater Township council approved a resolution in late December that authorized a Somerset County CDBG to make COVID-19 related improvements to the Bridgewater Senior Center, on Somerville Road. That work would include replacing washroom toilets and sinks with similar touchless devices, along with the installation of touch-free automatic doors.

"COVID-19 has affected our township’s finances in so many ways, and it will not be a short or easy recovery," said Moench. "However, having opportunities like this, and a professional staff to execute them, is critical to ensuring that we do not unnecessarily burden our taxpayers, many of whom are struggling with their own finances.”