HUNTERDON COUNTY, NJ - Hunterdon County became one of, if not the first, New Jersey county to receive reimbursement for costs of the July 7, 2020, “Vote-by-Mail” New Jersey Primary election, with funding coming through the CARES Act grant, according to county CFO Janite Previte.

“That grant was intended to cover the extraordinary expenses associated with Executive Order No. 144 (mandating the mail-in ballots’ procedures), and Hunterdon County is actually seeing reimbursement for some of these extraordinary expenses,” she said. “I want to let you know that our record keeping in County Clerk Mary Melfi’s office is impeccable. No sooner were the bills for this election process paid than the documentation for them was submitted to the State of New Jersey. Based on Clerk Mary Melfi’s swift submission to the state we’ve taken in a check for $184,000 within less than a week of her submitting that.”

“Hunterdon may be the first county in New Jersey to receive reimbursement for the Vote-by-Mail expenses,” she added.

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The $184,000 reimbursed Hunterdon County for its regular staff overtime hours and for temporary staff overtime hours. It also covers printing and mail services, as well as stationary, such as envelopes and labels.

There is another submission to the State of New Jersey that Hunterdon County delivered, covering costs of the county clerk’s office expenses. Previte said several other documents for the grant reimbursement funding for the County Board of Elections will also go to state offices.

Previte also introduced a Board of Chosen Freeholders’ resolution that authorized the county Health Department to apply to the New Jersey Department of Health for a $100,000 grant “for the creation of a multi-agency, multidisciplinary Countywide Overdose Fatality Review Team.”
The grant request would cover a grant period from Oct. 1, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2021, and no matching Hunterdon County funding would be required.

Previte said this review team is a new grant initiative “with a very quick turnaround.” Following a motion to approve by Freeholder Deputy Director Sue Soloway, the freeholders voted unanimously to approve the grant application.

Separately, the Freeholder Board authorized Freeholder Director Shaun C. Van Doren to sign a Letter of Agreement with the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse on behalf of Hunterdon County, for the period of July 1 to Sept. 30 for the county to receive $25,800 in State of New Jersey funding that provides for substance abuse prevention and education programming, to be organized through Hunterdon County’s various Municipal Alliance programs, coordinated with the county Department of Human Services.

“The odd time frame noted within this funding period is to allow for the extension of the 2020 State Budget,” Previte said.   

In her county finance report to the board on July 21, she explained two Chapter 159 sources of county revenues in the 2020 Hunterdon County Budget. The first, a revenue item and the like sum as an appropriation for the 2020 County Budget for fiscal year 2020, is a $77,502.51 Clean Communities Grant to Hunterdon County from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).  

Previte also spoke about a State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) grant, anticipated with prior written consent of the Director of the State of New Jersey’s Division of Local Government Services “Public and Private Revenues Offset with Appropriations.”

“The $2,080 is for additional funds received from FY2020 SHIP grant that provides Medicare counseling at the county senior center, and this amount comes to us from the New Jersey Department of Human Services’ Division of Aging Services,” Previte said.

Soloway commented on the Division of Seniors, Disabilities and Veterans’ Services, and how the staff is gearing up for a potential reopening of the Flemington Senior Center, when a state Executive Order permits it to reopen.

“The team is putting together a plan to allow for physical distancing, and obviously not all the previous senior programs can be engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. “Additionally our building and maintenance crews have done a great job in putting into place several protective barriers and floor markings to ensure both participants and staff are going to be protected to the greatest extent possible. It is anticipated that face coverings will have to be worn when activities are permitted in the county senior center once again.”
“There is understandably great concern over the reopenings of senior centers across the state, as we all know that our older population are the most vulnerable to serious effects of the coronavirus and that is why we must continue to be extremely careful,” she added.
She added that county senior programs made available on the Hunterdon County website continue, as they have the last four months during the pandemic’s impacts and closures. Topics, classes and presentations have been very well-received “and they continue to attract participants,” Soloway said.