By Lauren Wanko
This morning, Moonachie’s Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable toured parts of the Bergen County borough along with assembly members and the mayor.
Mayor Dennis Vaccaro wants political leaders in the state assembly, federal government, as well the governor, to see what they’re going through. While he appreciates the governor’s visit to his town after Sandy struck, he’s looking for help for his community.
“He’s given us a boost when he came here,” said Vaccaro. However, “a month later, we’re still in the same position. His saying is throw out the playbook, untie his hand, let him do what he needs to do. Let us do that as a community.”
Vaccaro says Moonachie lost 24 emergency and public works vehicles and he’s wondering how the community will afford the rebuilding efforts long-term. It’s a reality municipalities are now facing throughout the state.
Commissioner Richard Constable says in the short term, municipalities will have to do when a need arises in a emergency situation which is to their city council and seek emergency appropriation so they can pay their bills.
“What we anticipate doing as a state is exactly what happened in the state of Louisiana where you had New Orleans that was decimated,” said Constable. “A significant portion of their ratable base didn’t exist. There, they had to make emergency appropriations so that the government could function, but the federal government came in with a massive award and subsequently made them whole. We anticipate that we would be doing the same thing here in New Jersey.”
Constable expects New Jersey will receive federal dollars in the next few weeks. “In general, we as a state are amassing the total damage assessment,” he said. “You guys have heard certain numbers, that number is going to go to the federal government and the governor is going to make an ask for infrastructure, an ask for the citizenry.”
It’s money Moonchie’s mayor is counting on. A significant number of industrial businesses in town are no longer operating, Vaccaro is concerned, saying their large industrial base is what keeps taxes somewhat reasonable. Vaccaro told Constable, “those homes that people are going to fix, they’re are all going to have for sale signs on them.”
Assemblywoman Marlene Caride (D-36) echoed the concern, saying “It’s very important to make sure we get the industrial area back up and going so that the tenants that have their businesses there or own property there stay there.”
Moonachie officials are operating in a make-shift borough hall of sorts. Their offices will transition into trailers. Then the plan is to rebuild the municipal building and police headquarters.