MILLVILLE - Even with the ultimate fate of its Urban Enterprise Zone unknown, and its current existence in a kind of bureaucratic limbo, the city continues to avail itself of the program's resources, at least in theory.
At its commission meeting earlier this week, Millville approved four applications to the state UEZ fund for well in excess of $1 million combined, at the same time acknowledging that the money may never arrive.
Just more than $600,000 is being sought to pay 80 percent of the salaries of four police officers and three firefighters. This is the 19th year the city has applied for program funding to pay for some of its police officers and the 18th year for its firefighters. The city provides a 20 percent match for public safety personnel funded through the UEZ.
The city also approved an application for $266,000 to pay down debt incurred from infrastructure improvements to the commercial site that currently houses a Lowe's and Acme Supermarket and another $535,000 for its UEZ administration budget.
The purpose of applying, even if the UEZ is not long for this world, is in hopes that Gov. Chris Christie changes his mind about eliminating the program. And there's also the matter of getting the money. If the city makes other plans, it would have to wait another year to apply for the funds it gets annually.
"We've been told to follow the process just as we have in the past," Vice Mayor Joe Derella said Thursday. "The funds are there, they're just frozen. We do know that the program is in jeopardy."
Mayor Tim Shannon and Economic Development Director Don Ayres are traveling to Trenton on Monday to participate in a forum hosted by state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, intended to illustrate the benefits of the program. Shannon also will try to explain the ramifications to the city should the program be dissolved completely.
Without the UEZ funding, positions likely would be cut, as four of the five commissioners have stated their intentions to avoid a tax increase. The salaries of the officers and firefighters represent about 5 cents on the local tax rate.
"I look at this as direct property tax relief for the city of Millville," Shannon said.
Contact Edward Van Embden: