CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — The Cape May County Board of Chosen Freeholders signed off an agreement that will allow contractors working on the beleaguered NextGen Aviation Park in Atlantic County to be paid.

Cape May County is one of four counties within the South Jersey Economic Development District, or SJEDD, which is spearheading the NextGen project. The other counties are Salem, Atlantic and Cumberland.

The project ran into financial problems as the SJEDD ran up more than $1 million in debt under former — and now ousted — Executive Director Gordon Dahl. Freeholder Will Morey said Atlantic County already has agreed to pay the contractors to get the project moving again, and the payments will trigger grant money from the federal Economic Development Administration.

“It enables NextGen to continue to move,” Morey said. “It lowers the district’s debt. All the counties could have chipped in money, but Atlantic County took the lead. Atlantic County will be reimbursed. Contractors are satisfied and then the U.S. EDA will make grant disbursements.”

The freeholders signed off on the agreement Tuesday with a resolution that notes the SJEDD has secured federal and state grant funding and loans in excess of $60 million over the years before running into problems with the NextGen project. Morey said the district “benefits the whole region.”

The resolution states: “… it appears as though operational issues have adversely affected the financial ability of the SJEDD to perform its stated purpose and to satisfy outstanding financial obligations with respect to a project in Atlantic County referred to as NextGen Aviation Park …”

Morey said Cape May County taxpayers may have some obligations to the district but they do not increase with the agreement.

Atlantic County is expected to spend $257,000 to $474,000, depending on negotiations with contractors, but is expected to get much of that back from the federal government.

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