ELIZABETHTOWN — It wasn’t a lottery, but Essex County has won $1.2 million in grants for saving taxpayers money.
Funding awards announced by the Department of State were highly competitive and given through the Local Government Performance and Efficiency Program.
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Essex County was awarded two of just 13 grants statewide for recent moves to cut spending.
Michael Mascarenas, head of the Office of Community Resources Department, wrote the grants with County Manager Dan Palmer.
Mascarenas was thrilled with the county’s win.
“We did all right,” he said Thursday.
The first grant award, for $244,881, recognized the creation of the Office of Community Resources, which formed in 2011 out of consolidating four county departments: the Youth Bureau, Stop DWI, County Planning and Traffic Safety offices.
“At the time of the consolidation, the county was looking for ways to be more efficient. Through attrition, we were able to combine those departments into one,” Mascarenas said.
FOR HORACE NYE
The other grant, for $984,250, was for the move to privatize Horace Nye Nursing Home.
The sale for private operation cut between $2 million and $3 million from the county budget.
“We also put the Horace Nye decision into the grant-making process,” Mascarenas said. “I think Horace Nye was budgeted at $16 million per year, but the amount passed to local taxpayers was $2 million. It was significant.
“The state recognized that and gave us a grant award for doing it.”
Together, the two grants total $1.2 million and will be paid out over three years.
The money is not targeted for any one project or department, Palmer said.
“It’s general aid, and it’s allowed to go directly into our general fund. We’re obviously going to try to replenish the fund balance to keep the levy down, unless the Board of Supervisors finds another use for the money.”