Hillside council, administration disagree over COVID-19 grant – Union News Daily

Hillside Municipal Building

HILLSIDE, NJ – Hillside City Council Chairman Gerald “Pateesh” Freedman made it clear at a city council meeting on Tuesday, September 14 that the denial of Union County Municipal CARES law grant funds in Hillside was not the fault of the council, but of the Hillside administration. He read part of a letter sent to him on Thursday August 19 from County Director Edward T. Oatman to substantiate his request.

“In an effort to help its constituent municipalities mitigate the effects of COVID-19, Union County created the UC Municipal CARES Act Grant in May 2020,” the letter read. The grant and the parameters surrounding it were discussed on the Union County Mayors’ conference call on May 12, 2020, and a follow-up email regarding the grant was sent to each mayor and city clerk on May 12, 2020. May 13, 2020. ”

Freedman went on to detail the county’s alleged efforts to try to reach Hillside representatives, including an email sent to City Administrator Hope Smith, with a copy to Mayor Dahlia Vertreese. The county then exchanged emails and spoke with the city’s chief financial officer and a representative from Millennium Strategies, Evan Covello, who provides grant writing and procurement services for Union County. Another email was sent from the county to Glynn Jones, city finance director, on November 23, 2020, informing him that the county had not yet received any refund requests. Finally, on December 15, 2020, Covello, on behalf of the township, submitted two admission sheets for review and review. But on December 23, 2020, an email was sent to each municipality informing them that the grant program had been suspended. The county would honor all previously issued award notices, but due to the township’s late submission no award notices were issued to it under the grant.

“Mistakes happen, oversights happen and we have to give a pass when that happens, but I raised this question because it indicates how this administration has been run over the past four years,” said Freedman in a telephone interview with LocalSource Wednesday, September 15. “There is money for grants, we have a grant writer, we have an administration that preaches a good game, but whenever they need something, it comes to the board as a request for it. bail. So that was just an indication of how the past four years have been. I don’t know how much money we would have had and obviously we lost. It is documented that the appropriate forms were not filled out correctly, that the administration was informed that they had to do certain things and we lost a lot of money. It is essential.

“I think a lot of this could have been sorted out with a phone call. The business administrator tried to cover up the administration last night by saying it was the board’s fault because they didn’t approve the budget on time, ”he continued. “To get this grant, you had to have a budget. We have temporary budgets. This council has been in constant battle with the administration for four years, delaying the presentation of the budget.

Although Smith did not respond to LocalSource’s attempts to contact her, the Hillside administration responded with a statement on Saturday, September 18, confirming that the township had taken the necessary steps to apply for this grant in a timely manner.

“The township made a timely application under the CARES Act grant before the deadline set,” the statement said. “The administration received an email notification from Union County on January 11, 2021, informing it that Union County had suspended the awarding of new grants. To date, we have not received any further notifications on the status of the grant application.

The chairman of the board, however, refused to take responsibility for what he said the administration was passing off as an oversight.

“It’s not the board’s fault,” Freedman said. “We have presented this budget so that we can approve it no later than May. So they tried to blame the board because we didn’t pass the budget. I’m sure a phone call to the proper authorities would have settled everything. We were working on a temporary budget, now it was an oversight. But again, it does happen, and, if it’s a rare opportunity, you have to live with it. It was a big grant. It wasn’t just an oversight.

“I realized it in August and talked about it. The company administrator asked me where I got the information from and at that time I did not have permission from the county manager to disclose, and I said I did not couldn’t divulge my source, but I didn’t want him to die and make what I said was wrong, ”Freedman continued. “I asked the County Director for permission to use his information. The township lost an opportunity to get a lot of money from a grant. It is not just this instance; it’s the fact that for some reason we haven’t received the grants that I know exist. The board is not responsible for going out and seeking grants. It is an administrator function and it is not done. I would hate to dig into it and find out how many other opportunities we have taken to apply for different grants. There is money there and other cities are receiving it.

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