The township Committee approved the hire of a grant writer with a temporary cap of $20,000 to handle Hurricane Sandy and FEMA related requests.
Looking for assistance with grants, mitigation and infrastructure projects, the Committee approved the hire of Millennium Strategies on Thursday night.
“We’re entrenched in mitigation,” Susan Scavone of Millennium Strategies said.
Millennium Strategies is a grant writing and economic development consulting firm, she said. The company works on planning, budgeting and funding of projects for organizations and government agencies throughout the state.
amounting to more than $12 million requested, Township Administrator and Municipal Clerk Veronica Laureigh said.
The township is not staffed to handle the amount of work flowing in due to Hurricane Sandy related matters, she said.
“The time this has taken for Superstorm Sandy has become really a full time job for a lot of us department heads and since we are short on staff I think it’s important we get the assistance on board to help us get the most money that we can for the residents,” Laureigh said.
Having a grant writer could also benefit the township with infrastructure projects, including the Bayfront Beach, she said.
“I cannot express enough how much we can use the assistance so we can also focus on our daily operations at the township,” she said.
Over the last three to four years, Millennium Strategies has gained experience in Hazard Mitigation.
“As much as we can, we’re trying to learn the ins and outs of federal, state and other mitigation grant programs that are coming through the state of New Jersey,” said Ed Farmer, CEO and President of Millennium Strategies.
The representatives thought the funding that came out of Hurricane Irene was the most they would ever see, Scavone said.
“That was basically our precursor to Sandy,” she said. “We heard all the rules, we learned how to do the programs, we learned how elevation works.”
With Sandy, there will be a significantly larger pool of money due to the damage the superstorm caused, she said.
“It is very important for your residents to take mitigation into their own hands as far as their home,” she said. “Mitigation concerns Lacey Township too. Even if all the homes in Lacey are elevated, you will still have flood issues.”
Millennium Strategies will serve in an advisory capacity for mitigation and Lacey’s residents as well as helping apply for grants for township projects.
“How do you prepare yourself for the next round of storms that we know are coming?” she said. “The weather patterns we’ve seen even after Sandy have been vindictive of what we’re going to see in the future.”
As money starts to become available through different resources such as the Community Block Grant, Millennium Strategies can also assist there.
“I think one area where our experience is going to be invaluable is how do you choose your contractor,” Scavone said. “There’s an awful lot that goes into elevation, even though they’re literally simply lifting a house.”
Millennium Strategies is familiar with elevation and contractors, she said.
“A lot of residents are going to be elevating at the same time. You’re going to have a lot going on in your town. There are going to be contractors who dissent on your town,” she said.
Millennium Strategies aims for budget neutral projects and many of their service charges will be factored into the grants, Scavone said.
“The grants that are rewarded are the grants that are properly planned,” she said. “We encourage all of our clients to get started early. Prioritize what you want to do.”
Their services cost $100 per hour and the township Committee implemented a cap of $20,00 for now.
“Well, we certainly don’t want to lose opportunities for our town so this is a one shot deal,” Mayor David Most said. “We want to put our best foot forward.