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'COVID-19'

Mar 30

Grants and Loans for Small Businesses Now Available

Posted to The Town Crier - Legislative Backgrounder on March 30, 2020 at 9:34 AM by Legislative Staff

Late last week, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) announced small business initiatives providing grants and loans for small businesses. The programs include:

Small Business Emergency Assistance: A total of $5 million available to small and medium-sized businesses and non-profits, with 1-10 full-time employees, to provide up to $5,000 as unrestricted payroll and working capital support. It cannot be used for any capital expenses, including construction.  The grant values are calculated at $1,000 per full-time employee. This grant is for retail, accommodations and food services, arts, entertainment and recreation, and other services defined with NAICS codes starting with 811 and 821. Home-based businesses are not eligible for this grant.

The business must have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 declared state of emergency in Executive Order 103 (e.g., has been temporarily shut down, has been required to reduce hours, has had at least a 20% drop in revenue, has been materially impacted by employees who cannot work due to the outbreak, or has a supply chain that has materially been disrupted and therefore slowed firm-level production).

The focus of this round of funding is on the smallest enterprises in industries that are among the most adversely impacted by the COVID-19 containment measures. The goal of the grants is to try to preserve the ability for small businesses to support and maintain a workforce during this containment period that is as close to pre-outbreak levels as possible. Applications are anticipated to be opened during the week of March 30th. Completed applications will be considered on a first-come, first-serve rolling basis.

Small Business Emergency Assistance Loan Program: A total of $10 to million provide working capital loans up to $100,000 to businesses and non-profits, with less than $5 million in revenue, to cover operating expenses and ensure continuity of operations during the outbreak. The program will provide a 10-year term and amortization with 0% interest rate for the first 5 years and to EDA’s prevailing floor rate, capped at 3%, for years 6-10 with deferred repayments for 12 months.

This loan program is for businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak (including, but not limited to: reduction of business hours, complete closure of business, at least a 20% decline in revenue, employees unable to work, required to close by government, or disruption of supply chain).  Applications are targeted to open during the week of March 30th. Completed applications will be considered on a first-come, first-serve rolling basis.

Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) Emergency Loan Loss Reserve Fund: A total of $10 million capital reserve fund providing low-interest working capital to micro-businesses to provide additional resources. Each loan cannot exceed $75,000 and the interest rate must be lower than 3.75% with flexible loan structures. The term of the loan cannot exceed 5 years.  Small Businesses and micro enterprises, some of which may not be able to secure traditional bank financing should reach out to their local CDFI for financing options.  If someone needs more information about their local CDFI please visit EDA’s Small Businesses Services.

CDFI Emergency Assistance Grant Program: A total of $1.25 million providing grants up to $250,000 to CDFI to support the scale-up of operations, technical support, and underwriting capacity of these CDFI, including hiring staff.  If someone needs more information about their local CDFI please visit EDA’s Small Businesses Services.

NJ Entrepreneur Guarantee Program: - A total of $5 million to encourage investment by encouraging private sector investors to provide additional working capital loans to NJ-based entrepreneurial businesses in which the investor is already an equity holder.  EDA will guarantee up to 80% of the total investment amount, not to exceed $200,000 per NJ entrepreneurial company. Applications will be accepted in the coming weeks. Completed applications will be considered on a first-come, first-serve rolling basis.

Small Business Emergency Assistance Guarantee Program: - a $10 million pilot program that makes available one-year first loss guarantees of permanent working capital loans and lines of credit originated by Premier Lender banks. These loans must be made to cover operating expenses for New Jersey small businesses and non-profit organizations that have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.   The program provides a 50% guarantee, not to exceed a total EDA exposure of $100,000, for working capital loans or lines of credit to support business continuity for a range of COVID-19 related impacts to businesses (reduced revenue, employee shortage, supply chain impact, etc.). There are no EDA fees associated with applying for this program.   

Emergency Technical Assistance Program: a $150,000 program that will support technical assistance to NJ based companies applying for assistance through the US Small Businesses Administration. More information will be forthcoming over the next week and can be found on the state’s COVID-19 Information for New Jersey Business website.

Contact:  Lori Buckelew, Sr. Legislative Analyst, 609-695-3481 x112; lbuckelew@njlm.org

Mar 27

COVID-19 Related Temporary Rule Change to UCC and DCA Guidance to Municipal Construction Offices

Posted to The Town Crier - Legislative Backgrounder on March 27, 2020 at 10:01 AM by Legislative Staff

The Department of Community Affairs (DCA) this week issued a Notice of Rule Waiver/Modification/Suspension Pursuant to Executive Order No. 103, which temporarily relaxes certain provisions of Uniform Construction Code (UCC).  In this notice, the DCA announces temporary rule changes to provision of the UCC concerning specifically; Minor Work (N.J.A.C. 5:23-2.17A), Inspections (N.J.A.C. 5:23-2.18), and Certificate requirements (N.J.A.C. 5:23-2.23.)  The purpose of the temporary rule changes is to ensure the continuity of construction without a detriment to the public welfare during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In conjunction with this Notice, the DCA also issued a Memo providing guidance to construction offices regarding the implementation of the temporary rule changes.  The Memo offers differing operational guidance for construction offices based on whether or not the office is open during the COVID-19 pandemic.  You should review this operational guidance with the temporary rule changes in mind to determine the safest and most efficient way for your construction officials to perform their job during this time.

The temporary rule changes became effective March 25, 2020, and will expire upon the termination of Executive Order No. 103.  Below you will find an explanation of the temporary rule changes:

Minor Work

N.J.A.C. 5:23-2.17A(d) generally requires inspections for minor work, including inspections of replaced residential heaters, air conditioners, and/or water heaters, to occur within three business days of the request for inspection.  Because of the need for social distancing and the unavailability of inspectors due to the closure of Local Enforcement Agencies (i.e. municipal construction offices) this three-day requirement may be impossible to meet.  Therefore the DCA has relaxed the time frame for such inspection to occur within 30 days from the termination of Executive Order No. 103.

Inspections

N.J.A.C. 5:23-2.18, generally requires construction officials to perform a preliminary inspection, inspections during the progress of work, and a final inspection.   Again, because of the need for social distancing and the unavailability of inspectors due to the closure of Local Enforcement Agencies (i.e. municipal construction offices) construction officials may be unable to perform these inspections.

In light of this, notwithstanding emergency work in accordance with N.J.A.C. 5:23-2.14(b)(3), if a permit was issued prior to closure of a construction office and inspections have been deferred then construction officials shall perform a Certificate of Continued Occupancy (CCO) inspection upon the office reopening.  In these circumstances, documentation for a CCO inspection shall, at a minimum, include the following:

  • A report describing the work that was completed within the time that no inspections were available;
  • The design professional or firm associated with the project should oversee, approve, and document the portions of the project where no inspections were performed;
  • Licensed/registered tradesmen should document the process of their work in accordance with the inspection procedures of the UCC; and
  • Before, during, and after pictures and/or videos shall be included in the documentation.

In some circumstances where a building has never been issued a CCO, it may be necessary for an applicant to acquire a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO) from the DCA, instead of the CCO from the municipal construction official.  In this situation a TCO would be issued by the DCA and once the municipal construction office reopens the building would need to be inspected for a Certificate of Occupancy (CO).  In these situations, although a CO inspection is typically required under the UCC to be performed within three business days the DCA’s temporary rules relax this requirement to allow inspection within 90 days from the termination of Executive Order No. 103.

Certificates

N.J.A.C. 5:23-2.23(e), provides that CCO’s shall be issued upon request of the owner of a building or structure.  The temporary rule change issued by the DCA provides that, if a local enforcing agency determines that a CCO is necessary to ensure that construction work is properly documented and that future projects within the building are not cited for violations resulting from work perform without permits or inspections, then the local enforcing agency may on its own perform a CCO inspection.   

Contact: Frank Marshall, Esq., League Associate General Counsel, 
FMarshall@njlm.org or 609-695-3481 x. 137.

Mar 25

Budget Deadline Extended, Levy Cap Exemption & Estimated Tax Bills

Posted to The Town Crier - Legislative Backgrounder on March 25, 2020 at 1:24 PM by Legislative Staff

In response to COVID-19, the Division of Local Government Services (DLGS) issued Local Finance Notice 2020-07  (LFN) providing emergency budget, levy cap exemption, tax bill and depositing funds guidance.  Portions of the LFN are highlighted below.   


Budget Deadlines

Budget Introduction Deadline extended from March 29, 2020, to April 28, 2020, or the next regularly scheduled meeting after April 28, 2020.

Budget Adoption Deadline extended from April 30, 2020, to May 30, 2020, or the next regularly scheduled meeting after May 30, 2020.

Public Inspections of Budgets

To meet the statutory requirement for public inspection of the budget prior to the public hearing, the local unit must post the introduced budget on their website no later than the date of the public notice. The budget advertisement must include the web address where the public can access the introduced budget. Municipalities without websites can email their introduced budgets to the Division at dlgs@dca.nj.gov for posting on the Division’s website. Please see the complete LFN for additional submission requirements. 

Public Hearing Requirements

For budget hearings held by electronic meeting, the local unit must facilitate public comment during the public hearing. The budget advertisement must include information on how the public can remotely access the governing body meeting and provide comment during the meeting.

In addition to the public notice in the newspaper, the Division is strongly recommending that local units post their budget advertisement on their website and notify residents of the public hearing through other electronic means, for example, email distribution list or automated phone or text message.  In addition, the budget should be read in full, rather than by title, at the hearing if public restrictions have made physical inspection and mailing of the budget impracticable.

 

Cap Exemptions

Expenditures resulting from a state of emergency are treated as an exception to the appropriations cap, the 1977 county levy cap, and the 2010 levy cap (2% cap) law. Regulations state that the 2% levy cap exception for state of emergency is only available for “extraordinary cost” incurred for the immediate preparation, response, recovery, and restoration of public service. Therefore, only the portion of costs exceeding the cost of providing services under non-emergency conditions may be granted as an exemption to the 2% levy cap.

Tax Bills

The Division is strongly recommending that municipalities prepare to issue estimated property tax bills for 2020 in light of the disruption caused by COVID-19. As a reminder, estimated tax bills must be mailed to property owners no later than June 30th and the governing body must adopt a resolution authorizing the estimated tax bills.

We strongly recommend you review this Local Finance Notice with your Chief Financial Officer, Tax Collector, and Administrator. 

Contact: Lori Buckelew, Senior Legislative Analyst, 
lbuckelew@njlm.org, 609-695-3481 x112.