RELEASE: Gottheimer Hosts 2024 Grant “Claw Back” Summit for Fifth District Mayors

Mar 28, 2024
Press

Helps municipalities, first responders, and local organizations claw more federal tax dollars from DC to our communities

Claw backs mean lower property taxes

Making life more affordable and safer for North Jersey residents

Above: Gottheimer with Fifth District mayors.

PARAMUS, NJ — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) hosted his 2024 Grant “Claw Back” Summit for Fifth District mayors and borough administrators to help municipalities and local officials claw more federal investment back to their communities, first responders, local organizations, and residents. 

New Jersey’s Fifth District is up more than 357% in grants, resources, and federal dollars clawed back from Washington since Congressman Gottheimer entered office in 2017. In 2021 alone, the federal tax dollars clawed back amount to an average savings of more than $750 for each household in the Fifth District. 

“The more federal tax dollars we claw back to Jersey, the less our towns have to charge in local taxes. And, as you know well, our taxes are far too high. Jersey has the highest property taxes in the nation, including a median tax bill of more than $15,000 here in Bergen County,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “I’m all about lowering taxes and making life more affordable because it means more jobs and more people staying in Jersey.”

Local officials and first responders interested in applying for federal grants can learn more on Gottheimer’s website and are encouraged to contact Gottheimer’s Fair Lawn office at 201-389-1100.

Gottheimer’s Federal Grant Claw Back resources and support can be found here.

Grant Opportunities Highlighted During the Summit

  • LESO 1033 Program, which helps local law enforcement acquire vehicles, aircraft, and other surplus equipment from the federal government.
  • General Services Administration (GSA) Federal Surplus Personal Property Donation Program, which allows surplus federal property, including vehicles, scientific equipment, and heavy machinery to be donated to state, county, and local organizations.
  • Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG), which equip and train firefighters to better respond to emergencies. 
  • Staffing For Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants (SAFER), which ensures that fire departments can hire and retain a 24-hour firefighting force.
  • The Community Oriented Policing Services Program (COPS), which supports police departments in hiring officers and training them in community policing strategies.
  • FEMA Non-Profit Security Grant program (NSGP), which funds security enhancements and preparedness activities for nonprofit organizations.
  • American Rescue Plan Firefighter Grants (ARPFFG), which helps local fire departments cover the cost of protective clothing and critical equipment.
  • Community Project Funding (CPF), which allows Members of Congress to identify and fund high-impact local projects in areas like infrastructure and law enforcement.

Notable Federal Investments Clawed Back for New Jersey’s Fifth District Include:

  • $4.7 million in Community Project Funding for four flood-resistant infrastructure projects in Englewood, Emerson, Leonia, and Tenafly. These grants will help build new sewer systems and expand drainage to mitigate storm damage.
  • More than $5 million in Community Project Funding for an additional nine projects, funding new emergency services communications and safety equipment for our first responders, sewage system improvements, and other new infrastructure in Paramus, Bergenfield, Woodcliff Lake, Dumont, Fort Lee, Ridgefield Park, Upper Saddle River, New Milford, and Bergen County as a whole. 
  • Nearly $1.8 million in various federal investments clawed back for five pedestrian safety projects, as part of the Congressman’s newly-announced Pedestrian Safety Strategy. These investments in Ridgewood, Englewood, Closter, Hackensack, and Midland Park will fund safe pedestrian paths to schools, the construction of a new bridge, and updated railroad crossings.
  • More than $2.3 million in American Rescue Plan Firefighter Grants that will benefit 42 towns across the Fifth District. These grants will go to new protective uniforms, oxygen tanks, and cleaning equipment – which will make our firefighters safer and more effective.

Gottheimer hosted representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), General Services Administration (GSA), New Jersey State Police Surplus (NJSP Surplus), and New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP). Local leaders from over 20 municipalities attended this year’s summit to learn more about the federal grant opportunities available to their towns.

Gottheimer was joined by Cinzia D’Iorio, Vice President of Continuing Education and Workforce Development at Bergen Community College, Alpine Mayor Paul Tomasko, Demarest Mayor Brian Bernstein, Dumont Mayor John Russell III, Emerson Borough Clerk Michelle Ryan, Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes, Englewood Cliffs Borough Administrator Jerry Barberio, Englewood Cliffs Councilman David DiGregorio, Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, Haworth Mayor Heather Wasser, Leonia Mayor Bill Ziegler, Mahwah Mayor Jim Wysocki, Midland Park Mayor Harry Shortway Jr., Montvale Mayor Mike Ghassali, New Milford Council President Hedy Grant, Northvale Councilman Roy Sokoloski, Park Ridge Mayor Keith Misciagna, Park Ridge Borough Administrator Magdalena Giandomenico, Ramsey Borough Administrator Bruce Vozeh, Ridgewood Village Administrator Keith Kazmark, Ridgefield Park Mayor John Anlian, River Edge Mayor Thomas Papaleo, Woodcliff Lake Councilwoman Jennifer Margolis, Wyckoff Mayor Peter Melchionne, and Wyckoff Township Administrator Matt Cavallo.

Below: Gottheimer with Fifth District mayors.

Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery: 

Good morning, everyone. It’s great to be here with you today.

I want to thank Bergen Community College for hosting us here. Last February, we had our first “Claw Back Summit” right on this campus. BCC is a pillar of our community that allows people from all walks and stages of life to access higher education. Thank you for everything you do. 

Thanks to all of the mayors and town administrators joining us today. I am grateful to consider you both partners and friends. Over the past seven years, the best ideas I’ve brought to Washington have come from conversations I’ve had here in Jersey with local leaders like you. I also want to thank all of the federal officials here today. 

This isn’t the first time we’re getting together as a community to talk about clawing our federal tax dollars back from Washington. That’s been a major focus since I was elected. My dad always said to me as a kid, “if you don’t ask, you don’t get.” And for too long, North Jersey, specifically our congressional District, didn’t fight for federal grants, whether that was for pacts to keep our firefighters safe or security upgrades to help protect our houses of worship. We left money on the table by not applying. But, it’s not like those dollars disappeared. When we didn’t apply, certain states – which I lovingly call “Moocher States” – swooped in.

These “Moocher States” are getting a great bargain with our tax dollars. For every dollar Mississippi and West Virginia sent to Washington, they have historically gotten $4.38 and $4.23 back. To compare, Jersey historically has received about 67 cents for every dollar we send. Forty-four percent of Louisiana’s revenue comes from federal funds, compared to 27% in our state. So, Louisiana expects states like ours, instead of their local taxes to cover nearly half of their costs.

After I took office, I decided it was time we stood up to the Moocher States and started working together with our mayors, councils, first responders, colleges, nonprofits – you name it – to claw back more of grant dollars to Jersey, where they belong, to protect our families and communities.

The more federal tax dollars we claw back to Jersey, the less our towns have to charge in local taxes. And, as you know well, our taxes are far too high. Jersey has the highest property taxes in the nation, including a median tax bill of more than $15,000 here in Bergen County. I’m all about lowering taxes and making life more affordable because it means more jobs and more people staying in Jersey. Since the state, county, and localities set tax rates, one of the best things I could do to get taxes down was to fight so that more of the tax dollars we sent to Washington came back to Jersey for our families — not to the Moocher States. And we’ve done exactly that.

I am very proud that, since 2016, working together, we are up 357 percent in our federal tax dollars that we’ve clawed back to North Jersey from Washington, helping to offset and lower our property taxes, to make life more affordable and better, and to improve the Fifth District in so many ways. In fact, in 2021, that amounted to more than $750 for every single Fifth District household — dollars going back into the pockets of our hardworking families when they need them most. Dollars taken off of our property tax lines. Lower Taxes. 

And we’ve done that by working together, applying for grants that make sense for us, and then fighting for them – with calls, letters of support, you name it. Again, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. My office and I are here to help advocate and fight, so that the dollars come back here! We will happily sit down with you and go over your town budget to see where it may make sense to apply for grants: 1033 or LESO program, AFG, SAFER, COPS, Non-Profit Security Grants, Community Directed Projects.

You and your town administrators should be receiving notices from me for all of these grants, when they are open, and when they close. You can work with us during the time period to see if you might qualify for the respective program, and, in many cases, get feedback from the granting agency – both before and after, if for some reason you don’t get it. I know many of you have outside grant writers, too. You need to lean on them to make sure they don’t miss deadlines. 

We’re so grateful to be joined today by representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), General Services Administration (GSA), New Jersey State Police Surplus (NJSP Surplus), and New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJ DHS). These individuals will be sharing key information on how to win federal and state grants — something we’ve had great success doing right here in New Jersey’s Fifth District.

Before I turn it over to them, I’d like to highlight some real wins. Some of our best claw backs to New Jersey — and the people who helped make it happen.

First, the Demarest Fire Department clawed back a major federal investment of $212,000 through the Staffing For Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant — or the “SAFER” grant — to help boost membership and start a much-needed new stipend program to help pay local firefighters. This directly addressed the manpower shortage. The SAFER grant gives communities the resources they need to hire and retain a round-the-clock staff of firefighters. We’ve received more than $1.9 million since I entered office in 2017.

Next, New Milford has clawed back an impressive $3.4 million in federal grants since 2017. They won the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) every single year from 2017 to 2022, which totaled $1.3 million. The AFG grant helps our firefighters access the critical equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, and training they need to protect our communities. New Milford used one particular AFG grant worth $750,000 that they used for a new ladder truck and air packs, which you can see on this slide. North Jersey has received more than $8 million from the AFG program since 2017.

So many of our other towns have also benefited from AFG. Teaneck Fire Department clawed back $437,000 for radios, so they could rapidly respond during a fire. Glen Rock Fire Department won nearly $300,000 for air filtration and masks, which are essential for firefighters entering a smoky building. That’s thousands of dollars that don’t fall on the local budget and taxpayer.

Teaneck has clawed back more than $5 million dollars since 2017, including a $500,000 Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant for school violence prevention — not to mention other resources for an ambulance and EMT equipment.

The COPS program helps our towns pay for law enforcement officers and equip them with training and resources to respond in any crisis. We’ve received more than $2.7 million from this program during my time in office. 

The Township of Bogota has used the Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) 1033 Program to claw back investments for a Humvee that has been used to save lives during severe flooding. They’ve clawed back nearly $500,000 dollars from the LESO program and more than $1.8 million dollars from federal grants since 2017. LESO helps police departments purchase used equipment, tools, and vehicles from the Department of Defense, so they can keep our communities safe. We’ve received nearly $20 million in LESO grants since 2017. 

The Glenwood Pochuck Ambulance Corp in Vernon has clawed back more than $200,000 from the General Services Administration – GSA – for a truck and an ATV. These vehicles, along with the inflatable boats for Oradell and the loader for Upper Saddle River acquired through the LESO program, will pay dividends for our communities.

And, we helped Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley claw back two Nonprofit Security Grants totaling $250,000 dollars. This investment helped provide security for the Temple to protect from a terrorist attack and other domestic threats. NPSG is an annual program, and we’ve clawed back the most in New Jersey – over $10 million. 

Just yesterday, as part of Community Directed Projects, I celebrated nearly $1.8 million that we clawed back for five pedestrian safety projects, as part of my new Pedestrian Safety Strategy. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), New Jersey has the most dangerous roads for pedestrians in the entire country. These investments in Ridgewood, Englewood, Closter, Hackensack, and Midland Park will make our sidewalks and streets safer for everyone. Community Directed Projects are relatively new.

They allow each member of Congress to identify important projects – in infrastructure, public safety, and more – where federal dollars can make a difference. Every year, what is covered may change. I get to pick about 15 potential projects, and we usually receive about 10 of them. But you need to apply please for consideration, and there is an involved process. I expect next year’s application to go out soon.

Englewood, Emerson, Leonia, and Tenafly recently clawed back $4.7 million in new federal dollars from Community Project Funding to invest in flood resistant infrastructure like new sewer systems and expanded drainage. These investments set us on the path to take preemptive and proactive action to ensure our cities and towns are prepared to prevent the worst of the damage from a hurricane or storm before it even occurs.

I fought – and secured federal investment – for another nine projects this month, totaling more than $5 million for North Jersey. These projects include new emergency services communications and safety equipment for our first responders, sewage system improvements, and other new infrastructure in so many of our communities, including Paramus, Bergenfield, Woodcliff Lake, Dumont, Fort Lee, Ridgefield Park, Upper Saddle River, New Milford, and Bergen County as a whole. 

This builds upon the 2023 fiscal year, when we clawed back and won over $24 million in Community Directed Projects for 14 projects that fund water filters, new road cameras, and even a bridge in Norwood.  

Finally, I am proud to spotlight more than $2.3 million in American Rescue Plan Firefighter Grants (ARPFFG) that went out recently that will benefit 42 towns across our District. These grants will go to new protective uniforms, oxygen tanks, and cleaning equipment – which will make our firefighters safer and more effective.

That all leads us to the focus of today’s session: how can we get even more dollars back to Jersey? Luckily, we brought in some all-star experts to help. My office – and my Director of Return on Investment, Cole, who is here – works with our local partners every day, scouring grant opportunities for our communities to help claw back as much as possible here and away from the Moocher States.

Mayors, we are here if you need anything. I’m sure you’ve seen our grant alerts, and I can promise you, there are more on the way. 

There is nothing partisan about this. This is just about working together to help families. I hope to be back here with you soon, celebrating a new set of claw backs.

If we work together, here in the greatest country in the world, our best days will always be ahead of us.

Thank you. God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

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