ROXBURY, NJ – Due to a “Herculean effort” by Roxbury Chief Financial Officer Lisa Spring and her staff, the township was recently reimbursed for nearly a quarter-million dollars of unanticipated COVID-19 expenditures, said Mayor Bob DeFillippo.

Slaying the Hydra and capturing the Cretan Bull were among Hercules' 12 Labors.

While Spring's work wasn't as dangerous, it was worthy of Greek god comparison, at least in the mayor's eyes.

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“It was a Herculean task to get that application in,” he said. “It was a huge job to fill that application out and get it in and then get all the money we asked for ... and it was done on a very short timeline. We’re all very pleased with the finance department.”

The receipt of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES Act) money – federal dollars channeled to the town through the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA) – was based on the “voluminous” application submitted by Spring last fall, DeFillippo said.

In it, the township detailed the unexpected coronavirus-related costs it had sustained, expenditures not anticipated in the 2020 budget. Roxbury received $246,729.96 in reimbursement.

“This is money that can be used to cover the township’s costs related to the pandemic and takes those costs off the backs of Roxbury taxpayers,” the mayor said.

Flexing the Bookkeeping Muscles

Spring, on Wednesday, said Roxbury Township Manager John Shepherd asked her to compile the COVID-related expenditures on Oct. 30, 2020. The deadline for seeking CARES Act money was Nov. 10, 2020.

Among the unexpected costs cited in the application was personal protective equipment (PPE) for the township fire department, first aid department and police department. Also included was the cost of hiring a contractor to disinfect the police department, all three fire houses, town hall and the public works buildings, said Spring.

“The Health Department really got crushed with additional work,” DeFillippo said. Roxbury Public Health Nurse Jim Craig, normally a part-time employee, has been forced to work many extra hours doing contact tracing of people possibly exposed to the virus, said the mayor.

“He is still doing that every minute of the day,” he said. “Contact tracing is not a normal part of his job. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we are up to over 1,000 people in Roxbury who have contracted the disease. For each one of these cases, Jim Craig had to go back and find out who that person came in contact with. That’s all above and beyond his normal duties. It’s tremendously time consuming.”

The reimbursement also includes money spent for Plexiglas barriers in Roxbury Town Hall, COVID-related signs at Roxbury parks, video-conferencing equipment for town meetings and equipment to help township employees work from home, Spring said.

Some virus-related expenses are continuing - particularly Craig’s efforts - forcing the township to continue spending unbudgeted funds. Spring said its unclear whether more CARES Act money will be made available.

“I don’t know what will happen with that,” she said. “We were only able to include expenses up to the time of the application.”

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