RELEASE: Gottheimer Announces 112% Increase in Federal Tax Dollars Clawed Back from Washington to Jersey to Help Lower Property Taxes

Releases Annual ROI Report Clawing Dollars Back from Moocher States Supports Firefighters, Law Enforcement

PARAMUS, NJ — Today, December 16, 2021, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) announced that New Jersey’s Fifth District has clawed 112% more federal tax dollars back from Washington and the Moocher States since taking office. For the past calendar year alone, the federal tax dollars clawed back amount to an average savings of $415 for each household in the Fifth District in 2020 — not including the support from the COVID-19 relief packages. 

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. 

 Today, Gottheimer highlighted town successes across Bergen, Sussex, Passaic, and Warren Counties, particularly with the FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG), the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant, the LESO 1033 excess resources program, USDA Rural Development (RD) grants, Community Oriented Policing Services Program (COPS), and FEMA Non-Profit Security Grant program (NSGP).

“By working with mayors, councils, first responders, colleges, nonprofits, and religious institutions, to fight for federal grants for our communities, we are now up more than 112 percent in our federal tax dollars that we’ve clawed back to Jersey from Washington, helping to lower our property taxes, make life more affordable, and improve the Fifth District in countless ways,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) during today’s announcement.

Gottheimer was joined at today’s announcement by Paramus Mayor Richard LaBarbiera, Paramus Fire Department Chief Michael Cleenput, Upper Saddle River Chief of Police Patrick Rotella, and North Jersey first responders.

NJ-5 “Return on Investment” Highlights for the 2020 Calendar Year:

  • Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG): In 2020, 21 North Jersey towns, fire departments, and ambulance corps clawed back more than  $2.35 million in total AFG investment. For example, Paramus clawed back $360,000 for 80 portable radios and Oradell clawed back more than $30,000 of fire attack hoses and nozzles.
  • Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) 1033 Grants: In 2020, 10 towns and police departments clawed back more than $3.5 million worth of surplus federal equipment and resources through LESO. For example, Oradell clawed back $24,000 worth of flood-lights to help first responders and improve visibility at emergency sites, Westwood clawed back $355,000 for a portable kitchen truck to help the community following major disasters, and Washington Township clawed back a pick-up truck and a 4x4 vehicle worth a combined $103,000, and Ringwood clawed back $27,000 in equipment.
  • Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grants: In 2020, Allamuchy and Washington Township clawed back a total $148,000 in SAFER investments to help local fire departments retain, recruit, and train new members. Overall, since 2016, Fifth District towns, fire, and emergency departments have clawed back more than $955,000 through SAFER.
  • Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP): Overall, the Fifth District has clawed back more than $4.1 million in NSGP investment since 2016, which provides grants to tax-exempt organizations like houses of worship, schools, and local nonprofits to boost security. In 2020, 13 nonprofits clawed back more than $1.2 million to boost security — eight temples, one church, one school, one senior care facility, and two local non-profit community organizations. Several organizations succeeded in clawing back the $100,000 maximum grant investment in 2020.
  • Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Program: Since 2016, the Fifth District has clawed back more than $2.7 million in COPS investment — helping our police officers better protect our communities and themselves. In 2020, the Fifth District clawed back more than $900,000 through COPS. For example, both Teaneck and Bogota School Districts clawed back investment through the COPS School Violence Prevention Program, and the Borough of Bogota clawed back $125,000 to help hire law enforcement.

Additionally, while not included in the final 2020 calculations, the Fifth District received more than $3 billion dollars of COVID-19 relief from the CARES Act passed by Congress in 2020. 

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 congressional letters of support, convened at least 15 Mayor Summits to train local leaders on how to apply for grants, hosted 15 grant workshops, sent thousands of letters and scores of emails to local leaders, and held more than 600 meetings with local officials.

Gottheimer’s new Return on Investment Report for 2020 can be found here.

 Video of the announcement can be found here.

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

It’s great to be back in Paramus with our heroic first responders from across the District to highlight the federal dollar returns we’ve clawed back to Jersey from Washington and the Moocher States to help cut property taxes and protect our firefighters, law enforcement, EMTs, and our families.  

When I ran for Congress five years ago, I realized that we were leaving gobs of federal grants, equipment, and other dollars on the table every year for the simple reason that we weren’t applying — and you didn’t have a Member of Congress who was willing to fight for those dollars. Instead, they went to Moocher States like Mississippi and Alabama — they got millions in grants to help pay for fire trucks like the one behind me. And we usually didn’t. There are all of these grant programs out there for everything from security grants to protect churches and temples; and investments to better equip, recruit, and pay our first responders; and, historically, we just hadn’t applied for many of them. And the person in my seat didn’t push for them. 

So, the Moocher States got lots of relief on their local and property taxes — and we paid retail. In fact, I came here to Paramus with Rich to make the point.   

As my dad has always said, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Well, thanks to all of you — our mayors and councils, county officials, and our police and fire chiefs and departments, and with my Director of Return on Investments, a full time position in my office, we started applying and fighting for that return on investment that we deserved, given what we pay — which, I believe, is far too high at every level — federal, state, and local, you name it. It’s also why I’ve been fighting so hard to restore the State and Local Tax Deduction, to help cut taxes, as part of my Affordability Agenda for Jersey. The results of our efforts togethers are remarkable. 

By working with mayors, councils, first responders, colleges, nonprofits, and religious institutions, I am proud to announce today that we are now up more than 112 percent in our federal tax dollars that we’ve clawed back to Jersey from Washington, helping to lower our property taxes, make life more affordable, and improve the Fifth District in so many ways.  

And, by the way, the 112 percent ROI — our return on investment — that I’m announcing today — is only through 2020 — the last full calendar year. This means we clawed back $415 for every single North Jersey family in 2020 alone. And, as you’ll see in the annual ROI Report that we are also releasing today, that 112 percent doesn't include the COVID-19 emergency resources we fought for and brought to the families and small businesses of the Fifth District these last eighteen months. 

And it doesn’t include the recently-enacted, once-in-a-century Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill I helped pass, including resources to build the new Gateway Train Tunnel, fix our crumbling roads, bridges, and NJ Transit, address storm resiliency, and help get lead out of our children’s drinking water. Bringing this major investment to our community will also help reduce the cost burden on our state and local governments.   

The bottom line: We have so much going for us here in Northern New Jersey — excellent schools with teachers that we invest in; safe communities, with the best firefighters and cops in the country; a hard-working and brilliant workforce; proximity to New York City, lakes, beaches, parks, ski mountains, and so much more. But making life more affordable is key.

Now, let’s talk about what our towns and counties have clawed back to the District — which programs we've utilized — and how it has helped protect our families and first responders. 

There are four major ROI programs I’d like to focus on — the LESO, or 1033 program, which delivers surplus government equipment and supplies like trucks and computers to our towns. The Assistance to Firefighters Grant, or AFG program, helps our departments cover the costs of life-saving firefighting equipment, from trucks to the air-packs on their backs. The SAFER grant program helps fire departments recruit and retain volunteer firefighters, which is particularly tough these days. The COPS program helps our towns pay for law enforcement officers and helps protect our communities. Paramus has utilized this program many times, and I’m proud to have worked with them on it.

The Nonprofit Security Grant Program helps our parochial schools and religious institutions provide critical security — our churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and community organizations in the Fifth District are the number one recipient of these grants in the state. And then there are several other key grant programs that support our nonprofits, Head Start, you name it. Of course, the CARES packages in 2020, including the American Rescue Plan this year, provided critical relief for our communities — for our hospitals, vaccine deployment, relief for families, small businesses, counties, and towns, and key investment for broadband and sewer.  These dollars have been particularly important, as our county and town budgets were stretched to the max last year, as we dealt with the darkest days of the pandemic.

Let me give you a few real world examples of how these grant dollars helped just recently: After Hurricane Ida devastated so many of our towns, several of our communities utilized the high water vehicles they received from the Law Enforcement Support Office equipment program to reach people. Others utilized ambulances from the FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant to transport and save the lives of those who were injured; and many fire and EMS departments are better staffed thanks to the Staffing For Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grants — staff who went on to literally save those from being swept away after they fell through collapsed bridges or washed-out roads. 

In our annual ROI report today, you’ll see some of our overall top performers and key highlights in our communities — where we’ve clawed back dollars from the Moocher States to help us here, to help firefighters put out a blaze, help law enforcment protect us from terror, and protect the children in our schools. That’s more federal tax dollars clawed back from Washington for storm clean-up, generators, and trucks, boats for floods, repairs, gear to help EMTs, and help emergency management. And by clawing back more to Jersey, our mayors, councils, and first responders have lifted significant costs off of our town budgets and helped provide critical tax relief to our residents on their property tax line.

While I’ve been in office, towns like Belvidere, Hackensack, Oradell, and Washington Township in Warren County have really utilized the federal surplus equipment programs, and gotten items like, extreme weather gear, maintenance kits, trailers, generators, trucks, and more to help them right now. 

This equipment, if not recouped by our towns, will either go to other states or be destroyed.

The LESO excess equipment program includes items like flashlights and first aid kits, even high water vehicles for our first responders, and electrical generators for emergency responders and families who lose power during major storms, which have been utilized by our towns many times over the last few years. It also includes basic supplies like copiers and computers. Oradell received flood-lights in 2020 — $24,000-worth — to help first responders know what’s going on at emergency sites.

Not to mention, Upper Saddle River clawed back nearly $480,000 via LESO for trucks that they used to save 24 people submerged in water during Hurricane Ida. 

To ensure we claw back even more tax savings in the future, I just introduced legislation, which the House and Senate passed, to ensure that our smaller communities have more equitable access to the LESO equipment program. For example, Westwood has clawed back more than $2.5 million from this program to help their first responders, including $355,000 this year alone for portable kitchen truck, cargo trucks, generators, first aid kits, and a tent to help with major disaster response. Meanwhile, Washington Township has clawed back multiple vehicles: one pick-up truck and one four-by-four vehicle worth a combined $103,000. 

Before I was in office, the Fifth District only brought back $798,000 per year on average through this program. Now, in the last calendar year alone, we’ve clawed back more than $3.5 million — a huge increase for North Jersey — and real savings to our taxpayers, since they don’t have to come out of town property-tax funded budgets saving folks money. In fact, thirty new towns have now enrolled in some of these federal equipment programs since I’ve been in office. That’s a big deal — and I want to thank them for fighting for their taxpayers.  

The Mahwah Police Department saved their taxpayers more than $432,144 in 2020, by clawing back generators, cold weather gear, and tools they need to protect themselves and the community.

This past year, through the Assistance to Firefighter Grants, or AFG, we’ve clawed back nearly $2.35 million to Jersey from Washington; that’s half a million more a year on average than North Jersey got before my time in office. 

That means more than $2 million dollars for life saving equipment that our firefighters and emergency service personnel can use to keep themselves and our communities safe. 

Here in Paramus, in 2020, clawed back $360,000 for 80 portable radios, like the ones here, so that they can stay connected. And Oradell also clawed back more than $30,000 worth of fire attack hoses and nozzles.

We’ve also had huge wins in communities like New Milford, who's joining us today. They drove over their new firetruck today, which they got through AFG the year prior, but was actually delivered last year in 2020 — worth more than a million dollars, but saving taxpayer money by being awarded a major AFG grant. 

Also, my day is made every time one of our Fifth District communities gets a Staffing For Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants. That’s because these dollars always go exactly where they should — to directly support our brave first responders — and to improve staffing at our departments. Since I took office, the Fifth District has landed more than $945,000 in SAFER and other fire department grants, including for 

Mansfield, Park Ridge, Franklin Lakes,which, alone, has received more than $600,000.

In 2020 alone, Allamuchy clawed back $45,000, and Washington Township got $74,000.

In our ongoing fight against terror, both lone-wolf, ISIS-inspired and homegrown terrorists and white supremacists, many of houses of worship, schools, and local community organizations have won Non Profit Security Grants.

Since I’ve taken office, we’ve clawed back $4.1 million in federal investment from this program. 

In 2020, thirteen religious institutions and community organizations clawed back dollars to keep their congregations and communities safe — many got $100,000 investments for bullet proof glass, bollards, cameras and the like. 

Finally, the Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS program — has helped us claw back $2.77 million since I took office — and helped our police officers better protect us and themselves.  And just like firefighters and EMTs, we should always get the backs of those who get ours.

Teaneck and Bogota clawed back more than $775,000 from the COPS program’s School Violence Prevention Program, which we, unfortunately, know is critical — to better protect our schools, students, and educators.

Finally, although we didn’t include these figures in our annual ROI calculations, to help out our communities with the expenses brought on by the COVID pandemic, we clawed back more than $3 billion through the CARES Act, in pandemic relief through 2020. That doesn’t include what we’ve clawed back in 2021 through the Bipartisan COVID relief bill I led last December or the American Rescue Plan this year.   

The bipartisan legislation we passed in Congress early on, to tackle our need — including federal investments that got to hospitals, first responders, local businesses, and more, to help purchase critical goods, PPE, and to keep us all safe.

Hundreds of millions of dollars went to support our hospitals, hardworking small businesses, families, educational institutions, and local community organizations. 

In North Jersey, our CARES Act relief was vital to supporting businesses and workers with PPP loans, reimbursing local governments for COVID expenditures, for extra hospital beds at New Bridge Medical Center, and much more.

We helped the NJ State Police claw back $47 million to help with the cost of COVID, our higher-ed institutions — a cornerstone of New Jersey — got support; including both Bergen and Sussex County Community Colleges; and hospitals that serve North Jersey clawed back more than $200 million to help frontline workers stay safe and to care for our loved ones and neighbors.

With today’s announcement, and as outlined in our annual ROI Report, North Jersey has now had a 112% increase in the federal tax dollars we’ve clawed back from Washington to the Fifth District since 2016 — a savings of $415 for every household in the Fifth District this past calendar year alone.

And, as I’ve been since day one, I’m committed to rooting out all wasteful government spending and to do everything possible to cut our taxes.

And I want to thank Zach, our Director of Return on Investment, and Lauren before him, for their work. Federal grant applications are a complicated process and having a point-person who knows how to really dig around to find that USDA Rural Agriculture grant or FEMA Non-Profit Security Grant or resources for school breakfast and lunch is vital.

Since 2017, we’ve held at least 15 Mayor’s Summits in Washington and many grant workshops, shipped thousands of letters and scores of emails, met with local officials, and visited every town — all to make sure that towns know about approaching deadlines and best practices for applying for federal grants.

Getting our tax dollars back home is not a Democrat or Republican issue — it’s a purely what’s good for hardworking Jersey families and businesses issue, and it’s about cutting taxes and helping make life more affordable.

If you have any questions, now or in the future, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

We are always available to help — even right now we are helping fire departments get through unnecessary and burdensome federal red tape and supporting them with letters of support for Assistance to Firefighter Grants. 

Thank you to everyone joining me today, for your public service, and for supporting your towns. 

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

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