(04-01-2020 Regular Meeting) The Budget Hearing Portion of the Meeting has been cancelled. In conformity and compliance with recommendations and advice of County, State, National and International Public Health agencies regarding public gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, including any directive of the NJ Division of Local Government Services (DLGS), City Council will provide live streaming capabilities of its meetings, commencing April 01, 2020. The public is restricted from attending the meeting at City Hall. However, the public may provide questions and comments via live streaming. The meeting will begin at 7:00PM. Instructions are below:
As testing is rolled out, first priority will be given to healthcare workers and those with symptoms. Drive up testing will not be for “worried well.”
The first FEMA drive through test site will begin tomorrow in Bergen County and will be available 7 days a week. Additional sites will be opened based upon the number of cases and availability of test kits and PPE.
NJ has been approved for federal loan applications through SBA
NJ, NY, CT, & PA are requesting multi-state massive block grant of $100 billion
All foreclosures and evictions will be temporarily suspended Banks and lenders will be asked for more flexible loan repayments
ELECTIONS All March and April elections (including Atlantic City’s March 31 election and April 21 school board elections) have been moved to May 12.
All May 12 elections will be conducted by vote-by-mail to ensure access to ballots without risk
All voters will receive vote-by-mail ballot for May 12 elections with a pre-paid return envelope
March 30 petition deadline remains for candidate and delegate petitions using online form available at: elections.nj.gov
No changes to June 2 elections at this time, except for online petition submissions
Atlantic County Government Closings and Service Adjustments
Atlantic County has announced additional closings and service adjustments to help protect the health and safety of the public and its employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
All county parks remain open with the exception of Lake Lenape West, however, park facilities such as the Nature Center, Boathouse, Catering Hall and Veterans Museum are now closed to the public. Visitors may still enter the parks and restrooms will be open. Those in need of services from the Veterans Cemetery Office are advised to call for an appointment to (609) 909-5859. Green Tree Golf Course in Egg Harbor Township also remains open to the public.
The Atlantic County Senior Centers have been closed to the public but registered congregate meal recipients are being accommodated.
County transportation services are available to eligible residents with a reservation for shopping, dialysis and essential medical appointments. Please call (609) 645-5910.
The Shoreview Building in Northfield, which houses the Division of Intergenerational Services, is now closed to the public. Residents may call 1-888-426-9243 for information and assistance.
The Veterans Services Office in Northfield is closed to the public but is available by phone at (609) 677-5700 and is utilizing a drop box outside its front door for those who need to submit paperwork.
The Workforce Development Board and the One Stop Career Center in Pleasantville are closed but will continue to provide services online and by phone. Those who need to apply for unemployment benefits may do so at www.myunemployment.nj.gov or by calling (856) 507-2340.
Atlantic County Family Success Centers are closed but remain accessible as follows: Hammonton Family Success Center: 609-204-2334; New Day Family Success Center: 609-652-0230; Inland Family Success Center: 609-569-0376. Each site is also available on Facebook.
The Atlantic County Animal Shelter is closed but residents can make appointments for adoption services and redemption of impounded strays at (609) 485-2345.
The Surrogate’s office located in the Civil Courthouse in Atlantic City has been closed. The office on Main Street in Mays Landing will continue to conduct business by appointment. Please call (609) 645-5800.
Public access to the County Clerk’s offices in Atlantic City and Mays Landing has been temporarily suspended. While staff cannot process passport applications at this time, they will continue to provide all other services. Residents can submit documents by mail, online and via a secured drop box. Call (609) 625-4011 for more information.
Public access to the Superintendent of Elections/Commissioner of Registration offices in Atlantic City and Mays Landing has been temporarily suspended. Staff will continue to process Voter Registration Forms/Updates, as well as Affiliation Forms and other correspondence. Residents can submit documents by mail, online and via a secured drop box located at the Historic Courthouse on Main Street in Mays Landing. Call (609) 645-5882 for more information.
The Board of Taxation office in Mays Landing is closed to the public but staff is available by phone to (609) 645-5820 and a drop box is available for document submissions. Tax appeals can be also be filed by mail as long as they are received no later than 4:30 PM on April 1 for all towns except Atlantic City and Pleasantville who have a May 1 deadline due to reevaluations.
The county previously reported that visitors to the Meadowview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Northfield and the Justice Facility in Mays Landing are prohibited until further notice.
The nine branches of the Atlantic County Library System are closed. Patrons who have borrowed materials may hold onto them until the libraries reopen. All materials will be auto-renewed through April 15. Many services are accessible online. Visit www.atlanticlibrary.org to learn more.
All in-person interviews and face-to-face business for the Department of Family & Community Development is temporarily suspended. Visitors may call (609) 348-3001 for assistance.
For information and updates, please visit the county web site at www.aclink.org.
CALL TO ACTION FOR ALL OF US:
We must practice social distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette if we are to mitigate the effects of this virus.
Simply put, please stay home, wash your hands thoroughly, and please cover your cough or sneeze. We will get through this. We are Jersey Strong.
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT COVID-19: The NJ Poison Control Center and 2-1-1 have partnered to provide information to the public on COVID-19. The hotline number is 1-800-962-1253. Or, you can call 2-1-1 with questions or concerns, or to access NJ’s statewide comprehensive information and referral service. Or text NJCOVID to 898-211 to receive text information and stay informed. Additionally, NJ launched a COVID-19 Information Hub, covid19.nj.gov, where residents can get up-to-date information.
COVID-19 DASHBOARD AND HEALTH RELATED INFO: The New Jersey Department of Health website www.nj.gov/health has updated information daily related to the public health emergency. Or visit www.cdc.gov IF YOU’RE SICK: Call your doctor if you’re sick or if you think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19. Your doctor can give you medical advice if you develop a fever or other symptoms.
TESTING SITES: A testing site opened on Friday at Bergen Community College for NJ residents only (proof of ID necessary) and those exhibiting symptoms. The site will have the capacity to test 2,500/ week. Monmouth County site is opening today at PNC Bank Arts Center. There are also plans for a testing site to open at Camden County College in Blackwood once tests become available, and the Burlington County Coronavirus Task Force is looking to set up a site within the county soon.
CLOSURES, CROWDS, AND CURFEWS: All social gatherings and assemblies, such as parties, celebrations, or other social events, are cancelled including conferences, large meetings, parties, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies. Please note that law enforcement may charge folks who disregard these rules.
The Governor ordered the following businesses to close: non-essential retail; casinos and racetracks; gyms and fitness centers; entertainment such as movie theaters, performing arts centers, concert venues, and nightclubs; shopping malls; places of public amusement; and personal care businesses such as barbershops, hair salons, spas, nail and eyelash studios, tanning salons, and tattoo and massage parlors. Bars and restaurants must be closed for on-premise dining but may provide take-out and delivery service only.
WORKER PROTECTION PROGRAMS: Visit NJ Department of Labor’s website to determine if you are eligible for unemployment, family leave, earned sick time or worker’s compensation benefits during the coronavirus outbreak. The chart below is a useful tool. For more info: https://www.nj.gov/labor/worker-protections/earnedsick/covid.shtml FILING FOR UNEMPLOYMENT: Many residents have reached out to our office for help with unemployment benefits. The NJ Department of Labor is encouraging anyone seeking benefits to apply on their website: https://myunemployment.nj.gov/ UTILITIES The NJ Board of Public Utilities announced that utilities have suspended all shut-off orders for electric and gas. https://www.bpu.state.nj.us/bpu/newsroom/2020/approved/20200313.html HOUSING Governor Murphy recently enacted a moratorium on removals due to evictions and foreclosures. However, we know that the next few weeks, maybe months, may be financially challenging for some. NJ Department of Community Affairs has various rental assistance programs that can help during times like these and is accepting applications. Learn more: https://njdca-housing.dynamics365portals.us/en-US/ SOCIAL SERVICES/ CHILDCARE For information on childcare, cash shelter and food assistance, NJ FamilyCare/Medicaid, individuals with disabilities, mental health and substance abuse, and support for older residents please visit: https://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/news/press/2020/approved/20200318b.html PRICE GOUGING Sadly, people will try to take advantage of others during times of crisis. Beware of scams and price gouging during this public health emergency. Report it at NJ Consumer Affairs: https://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/ MOTOR VEHICLES: All New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission agencies will be closed. All driver licenses, non-driver IDs, vehicle registrations, and inspection stickers expiring before May 31 have been extended by two months. Most renewals, replacements, changes of address, and other transactions can be processed online at www.NJMVC.gov. If your REAL ID Appointment was cancelled due to Agency closure from March 16, 2020 through March 29, 2020, keep your cancellation email. When MVC re-opens, you can bring the email to your appointment agency anytime within 30 days and get a REAL ID without an appointment.
MUNICIPAL COURTS Chief Justice Rabner announced that municipal court sessions in New Jersey will be suspended for two weeks to minimize exposure to the coronavirus. More information about the closures may be found online at njcourts.gov.
CENSUS 2020 We are in the midst of the 2020 Census. Our current public health emergency is a reminder of the importance of having an accurate Census count. Even if you received an invitation by mail, or even if you have not, you can still complete the Census online at my2020Census.gov. It’s simple and only takes 10 minutes to complete.
NJTRANSIT: NJ TRANSIT is running special weekday service beginning Monday, March 23rd, 2020. The River Line special weekday schedule maybe be found on NJ TRANSIT’s website by clicking here. Due to the rapidly changing nature of the COVID-19 response, customers are strongly encouraged to sign up for My Transit alerts and activate push notifications on the mobile app to receive the latest status of the system.
NJ new positives – 3,347; new deaths – 37 Statewide totals: 16,636 positives and 198 deaths 40,806 tests performed with 15,582 positives for 38.19% positivity rate Hospitalization rate:
Atlantic County: 5 new positives; no deaths; 30 cases countywide
$2.2 trillion federal relief bill signed, but state believes we will need more.
2020 Census important to ensure we receive our fair share of federal funding; NJ was undercounted in 2010
Mortgage Relief – 90-day grace period without any late fees or credit rating downgrade
Evictions/Foreclosures – 90-day moratorium; landlords also asked not to raise rents during this time
Credit Card companies have been asked to suspend late fees where feasible and to reduce interest rates
Utility shut-offs temporarily suspended
PPE received by state is being given to hospitals and healthcare facilities; 203 entities have donated PPE
Recent acquisitions included: 121,000 N95 masks; 287,000 surgical masks; 62,000 face shields; 68,000 gloves; 51,000 gowns and 300 ventilators from National Stockpile
Healthcare facilities will be required to report daily need for PPE and ventilators as well as bed capacity
COVID19.nj.gov Information Hub – 1.6 million hits; now also available in Spanish; includes a Symptom Checker that has been accessed by 129,000 to date
Online Voter Registration being reviewed; law signed to approve its use
Problems at Lakeland Health Center in Passaic County, example of long term care facility that is of particular concern
SOCIAL DISTANCING IS IMPERATIVE TO SAVE LIVES AND PROTECT HEALTHCARE SYSTEM
Preparing for eventuality of needing extra hospital beds. Projections, without social distancing, and peak in early May - there could be nearly 80,000 hospitalizations. Current inventory of only 18,000 beds. No way to close that gap. MUST stay at home and use social distancing – our #1 weapon at our disposal
Call for medical volunteers through COVID19.nj.gov website. 3,611 have responded so far
#1 Need is for Ventilators – Murphy has spoken to President Trump and VP Pence; 300 ventilators provided from National Stockpile
Will consider “co-vent” – 2 people sharing one ventilator
Healthcare facilities must report daily on needs at report.COVID19.nj.gov
PNC signed into mortgage relief program (90 day grace period)
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have their own regulations for mortgages
Continue to accept corporate PPE donations at COVID19.nj.gov/PPEdonations
$70 million more for SNAP Benefits
Distilleries permitted to home deliver
REMINDER: Testing is not for worried well. Those who are symptomatic should call primary care provider who will assess their condition and direct them to testing if they meet the criteria. Testing data of symptomatic patients is very valuable.
Symptomatic Checker available online at: COVID19.nj.gov
New joint federal/state task force formed to address unlawful, misleading activities. Call 1-866-720-5721 or email email@example.com to report violators.
Some updates to Executive Order 107 regarding how businesses can maintain operations while social distancing for auto dealers (electronic sales), realtors (no open houses), golf courses remain closed. Firearms dealers may operate by appointment only and continue to enforce gun safety laws.
CDC travel advisory DOES NOT impact NJ Stay-at-Home order
Correction of previously misreported stats regarding police officers who have tested positive. 288 law enforcement officers have tested positive. 277 are self-quarantined and 618 are out sick for other reasons.
State Police have investigated 70 compliance issues; 34 cited as indictable offenses
State Health Report Using CHIME model developed by Univ. of Penn taking into account 1) # of surgical/medical beds; 2) # of positives; 3) # of unknown cases, anticipated positive
73 Long Term Care facilities out of 375 have at least 1 positive; 34 deaths in LTC facilities out of 81 total deaths during this time
Current inventory – 18,000 beds and 2,000 critical care beds If we did nothing – we could have 80,000 hospitalizations and need for 4,000 ICU beds
Have asked all hospital systems to double their ICU bed capacity. Many primary hospitals will become critical care hospitals. Will use field hospitals to supplement bed capacity as well as hotels and dorms if needed.
1 staff member at Ancora has tested positive and a patient at another psychiatric hospital also tested positive
Exploring use of anesthesiology machines as ventilators. Training for doctors over the weekend re: co-venting process through distance learning and on site
Atlantic City Electric Reminds Residents to be Aware of “Customer Scams”
Atlantic City Electric reminds residents to guard against falling victim to imposter utility scams. When scams occur, a customer typically receives an unsolicited phone call from an individual, who falsely claims to be a company representative. The scammer often warns that the customer’s service will be terminated if they fail to make a payment – usually within a short timeframe through a prepaid debit card or other direct payment method.
Some scammers also use caller ID “spoofing” to replicate a company’s phone number.
Signs of Potential Scam Activity:
The scammer often becomes angry and tells a customer his or her account is past due and service will be shut off if a large payment isn’t made – usually within less than an hour.
The scammer instructs the customer to purchase a prepaid debit or credit card – widely available at most retail stores – then call him or her back to make a payment.
The scammer asks the customer for the prepaid card’s receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the funds loaded to the card.
The scammers may disguise themselves as the utility by sending spam emails with logos, trademarks, website links, and wording to lure the customer into making a false payment or providing personal information.
How Customers Can Protect Themselves:
Atlantic City Electric representatives will never ask or require a customer with a past due balance to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection.
Customers can make payments online, by phone, automatic bank withdrawal, mail, or in person.
Customers with a past due balance will receive multiple shut off notifications – never a single notification one hour before disconnection.
If a customer ever questions the legitimacy of the call, hang up and call Atlantic City Electric at 800-642-3780.
Atlantic City Electric Taking Steps to Support Customers During Coronavirus Pandemic
Company provides tips, resources and payment accommodations for those who may have challenges paying their monthly energy bill
MAYS LANDING, N.J. (March 13, 2020) – With officials in New Jersey and other locations declaring a state of emergency in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlantic City Electric understands customers may be affected by the ramifications and is taking steps to help. In addition to reminding customers of existing bill assistance resources, the company is taking steps to expand awareness of the programs in place to help customers through temporary or extended financial hardship. Atlantic City Electric is suspending service disconnections, already in place as part of the Winter Termination Program (WTP) and waiving new late payment fees through at least May 1, and will be working with customers on a case-by-case basis to establish payment arrangements, identify energy assistance options and waive late payment charges.
“We are committed to helping every customer through difficult times, and we know there will be many challenges associated with this pandemic,” said Dave Velazquez, president and CEO of Pepco Holdings, which includes Atlantic City Electric. “From programs that provide supplemental support, billing options that spread costs more evenly, to relief of late payment fees, we are taking important steps to support our customers and communities.”
Customers who may be challenged in paying their bill should contact Atlantic City Electric Customer Care at 800-642-3780. Atlantic City Electric will work with customers who may have difficulty paying their energy bill. The company offers payment options, like Budget Billing, which averages payments over a 12-month period to help customers manage their monthly energy bill, or flexible payment arrangements that offer individually tailored payment installment plans. Through Atlantic City Electric's Gift of Energy program, anyone can make a payment toward a friend or family member’s energy bill. The gift will appear on a future bill as a credit to the recipient's account.
Atlantic City Electric works closely with its community partners to connect customers with grants and programs like LIHEAP, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. LIHEAP provides grants in varying amounts based on a household’s income size, type of fuel, and type of dwelling, with no pay back required. South Jersey residents can apply for assistance online though the Department of Community Affairs website, by contacting their localLIHEAP Agency, or by calling 1-800-510-3102.
Other programs supporting Atlantic City Electric customers include:
The Universal Service Fund (USF) that helps make energy bills more affordable for low-income customers. USF provides benefits that can help customers reduce their natural gas and electricity bills. Customers can apply as part of the LIHEAP application process. Call
Payment Assistance for Gas and Electric (PAGE) can help low-to-moderate customers who are experiencing a temporary financial crisis assistance covering their natural gas and electric bills. For more information, call 732-982-8710 or visit njpoweron.org.
New Jersey SHARES is a nonprofit corporation that provides assistance to income eligible New Jersey households with energy, telephone and water bills. Visit njshares.org or call 1-866-657-4273 for details.
Senior citizens and disabled adults can take advantage of Lifeline, a utility assistance program that offers $225 to persons who meet certain income guidelines. This benefit includes utility customers as well as tenants whose utility bills are included in their rent. Call 1-800-792-9745 for details.
If you have homeowners in your community who are facing foreclosure or first-time homebuyers looking to purchase a home, the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) has programs that can help.
Foreclosures crush families and blight neighborhoods. NJHMFA's new state housing counseling initiative can help your residents who are in danger of losing their homes and also help protect property values in your town and your tax revenues. However, it is essential that homeowners reach out for this free program within 60 days of receiving a foreclosure notice.
Saving for a home can be difficult, especially for first-time home buyers. For residents looking to buy their first home, NJHMFA offers $10,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance, which can provide the resourses buyers need to complete the purchase and open the door to their new home in your community.
For any questions, more information, or to receive handouts about the programs that residents can take home, please contact Jesse Crawford, our Marketing and Communications Outreach Coordinator, at 609-278-7587 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Need Help Paying Your Utility Bill? Atlantic City Electric Reminds Customers Assistance is Available
Atlantic City Electric customers have numerous options in which to apply for energy assistance. Atlantic City Electric wants its customers to know there is help available now if they are having difficulty paying their energy bills, and also offers energy conservation tips.
Energy assistance is still available in southern New Jersey to help Atlantic City Electric customers pay for winter energy bills. Through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Atlantic City Electric customers can receive up to $1,000 in grant support toward their energy bill that they do not have to pay back. Customers must apply during LIHEAP’s open period to ensure they can secure their grant while money is still available.
“We understand that our customers may face financial challenges in meeting their energy needs, so we help them secure the essential energy assistance they need to help pay their utility bills,” said Vince Maione, Atlantic City Electric region president. “It is essential that our customers submit their application now, before this important money runs out.”
Last week, Atlantic City Electric employees traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate in LIHEAP Action Day hosted by the National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition. The employees advocated for policies that protect funding for the LIHEAP program by sharing stories with elected officials and policymakers that demonstrate the program’s value to vulnerable households in southern New Jersey.
To be eligible for a grant, a customer’s annual household income cannot exceed 200 percent of the federal poverty income guidelines. Each state has determined eligibility guidelines based on household size and income. Homeowners, renters, roomers and subsidized housing tenants may be eligible. Customers do not have to be behind on their bills to receive a grant.
New Jersey’s eligibility requirements are as follows:
$24,120 - One-person household
$32,484 - Two-person household
$40,848 - Three-person household
$49,200 - Four-person household
In addition to LIHEAP, there are many other programs and tips available to help Atlantic City Electric customers save money and manage their energy costs. Customers can also Get more detailed information about your energy usage so you can make more informed choices about how you use energysign up for My Account, which contains tools and detailed energy usage information. By tracking their energy use, comparing usage trends, and discovering the results of energy-saving practices, customers can manage their energy more efficiently. Customers can visit atlanticcityelectric.comto learn more about My Account, available energy assistance programs, and other ways to save money and energy
Customers also can receive financial assistance through Helping Hands, a program, funded by Atlantic City Electric, providing $3 million to help struggling customers meet their energy needs during the next three years. These funds are annually dispersed to low-income residents through the Affordable Housing Alliance, New Jersey SHARES, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Camden and the People for People Foundation.
Atlantic City Electric will work with customers who may have difficulty paying their energy bill. The company offers payment options, like budget billing, which averages payments over a 12-month period to help customers manage their monthly electricity costs, or flexible payment arrangements that offer individually tailored payment installment plans. Customers who may be struggling to make a payment should contact Atlantic City Electric as soon as possible at 800-642-3780.