Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said this morning that he will be seeking the state’s assistance to open up a COVID-19 testing site in the city, also revealing that the municipal government is bracing for a massive $70 million financial loss.
“[W]e are asking the state to set up a JERSEY CITY based testing site. That is where the density is in Hudson and the current appointment only system in Secaucus isn’t ideal for us,” he wrote on social media this morning.
The governor’s office and the New Jersey Department of Health did not immediately return inquiries seeking comment about a Jersey City testing site.
Around the same time, he released a statement indicating that municipal government expects $50 million in lost revenue, along with $20 million in unforeseen expenses, due to the current public health emergency.
“There’s no playbook for us to follow on this and we are looking to save money wherever possible to minimize the impact for residents,” Fulop said.
“It’s going to take time for us to recover, for our restaurants and small businesses to bounce back from this unimaginable crisis. That’s why we need help from the state and federal level.”
He further explained that the $50 million in unanticipated revenue loss takes into account significant impacts to the payroll tax, economy layoffs, businesses being closed, as well as a lack of municipal court fines, construction code fees, parking enforcement – among other things.
Meanwhile, the $20 million in appropriation increases include unanticipated emergency purchases, increased health benefit costs, overtime, and other expenses along those lines.
Currently awaiting financial support/guidance from the state and federal governments, the city is also faced with additional pressure of fixed statutory obligations such as pension payments, health benefits, and union-negotiated salaries.
“The City Council is focusing not only on our response to this current crisis and what our residents are going through, but we also need to plan for what lies ahead and that reality comes with some really tough decisions,” added Council President Joyce Watterman.
“I’m really proud of how Jersey City has been a leader for others to turn to during times of hardship, and I know we’ll tackle the next difficult phase that we all inevitably face. It’s the unfortunate truth, but it’s better to be prepared than be blindsided.”
The timing is particularly inopportune given the budget woes at the board of education, whose preliminary $736 million funding plan comes with a noticeable tax increase.
Fulop also indicated that the domestic terrorism incident on December 10th that claimed four innocent lives “had a big impact on the city’s overtime budget,” though he didn’t name a specific number.
“We’ve had two major crisis in the last few month here in Jersey City. The first, on December 10th with a mass shooting. And now, this international pandemic. I have no doubt that as long as we all work together, we’ll come out stronger on the other side of this,” the mayor concluded.
Yesterday, he said that Jersey City currently has 85 confirmed cases of COVID-19, urging residents to sign up for their Swift911 system for the latest updates.