Stimulus funds saved Gloucester jobs

Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Nov 16, 2011 - 03:46 PM

(Second of three parts)

Gloucester County Administrator Brenda Garton said that jobs could have been on the line in Gloucester government over the past few years if it hadn’t been for funding from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

"If the state had cut the budget in those years and funding hadn’t been received from ARRA," she said, "we would have had to cut the budget further, and we might have looked at cutting positions."

Garton said when the economic downturn began, the county started "vigorously freezing vacant positions," eliminating some part-time positions, and freezing capital expenditures.

"Anything we could," she said.

Some vacant positions were eliminated altogether so that the money that would normally be kept in the budget for those jobs could be used elsewhere to balance the budget.

The result? "We didn’t have to send any people home or move anybody around," Garton said.

According to an e-mail from Gloucester County finance director Nickie Champion, while most of the stimulus funding that came to Gloucester went to the schools, the county did receive limited funding. In fiscal year 2009 the county received $668,501 in State Fiscal Stabilization Funds, most of which went to the Gloucester Sheriff’s Office. In addition, Social Services received $17,025 for various programs.

In fiscal year 2010, said the e-mail, stabilization funds amounted to $164,278, the majority of which again was for the sheriff’s office, but a portion of which also saved one job in the Commonwealth Attorney’s office. During that year, Social Services received $81,313 for foster care, adoption, and food stamp programs.