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Bills Signed Today Will Fund Projects Throughout State, Including Bergen County

A package of bills sponsored by Assembly members Gordon Johnson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Connie Wagner (all D-Bergen) was signed into law on Thursday, paving the way for the state to invest roughly $650 million to fund projects that will provide cleaner, safer drinking water to communities while bolstering the state’s environmental infrastructure over the long-term.

“This funding will provide dividends for years to come,” said Johnson. “The infusion of cash will help create jobs for out-of-work residents while ensuring residents have access to clean, safe drinking water.”

Two of the four bills signed into law today are sponsored by the Bergen County legislators.

The first law (A-4055), sponsored by Johnson and Vainieri Huttle, appropriates certain federal and state funds to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for the purpose of implementing the 2011 New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Financing Program, which is expected to finance approximately $650 million in environmental infrastructure projects through loans issued at or below market.

“This is a sound investment in our future, from an environmental and a fiscal perspective,” said Vainieri Huttle. “These funds will put people back to work as we rebuild our infrastructure to provide cleaner drinking water and improve sewer operations to protect our environment.”

The New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Financing Program has completed twenty-four annual financing cycles and financed 931 projects totaling over $5.6 billion throughout the State. The program has reduced financing costs for project sponsors by approximately 25 – 30 percent. From its inception, the program has saved borrowers approximately $1.9 billion, generated construction jobs, and stimulated significant improvements to the State’s clean water and drinking water infrastructure.

The second law (A-4056), sponsored by Wagner, will provide supplemental funding to projects approved for financing under this program last year that have run into unexpected cost increases mid-year.

“This measure will provide short-term loans to local governments, utility authorities and other entities that have run into unforeseen cost increases while conducting projects to improve the state’s water quality and infrastructure,” said Wagner. “Many times, the cost for materials increases significantly from the time someone applies for a loan to the time the funds are disbursed, or worse, unexpected complications arise once a project gets underway. Rather than risk having these projects grind to a halt because of cost overruns, this will provide the extra financing needed to continue with these improvements for the benefit of our residents.”

Among the Bergen County projects that will be financed under the Environmental Infrastructure Trust program this year are:

– Approximately $1 million to the Bergen County Utility Authority to finance a clean water environmental infrastructure project;

– Approximately $1.2 million to Maywood Borough under the State Fiscal Year 2012 Clean Water Project Priority List; and

– Approximately $11.9 million to the Bergen County Utility Authority under the State Fiscal Year 2012 Clean Water Project Priority List.