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Clarifying Municipal Actions | Municipal Bonds, Public Meetings & Project Bidding

April 1, 2020

IMPORTANT INFORMATION — FOR NJ MUNICIPAL/COUNTY CLIENTS AND PARTNERS
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on our economy, and organizations of every size are continuing to adapt as the crisis unfolds. This is particularly true in New Jersey, among the hardest-hit regions. While our top priority remains the health of our employees and the public, T&M Associates agrees with Governor Murphy’s administration that many essential statewide projects can, and must continue. Numerous government actions, including multiple Executive Orders, have prompted questions from our clients and industry. The purpose of this communication is to clarify some of the common concerns we have been hearing.
Clarifying Municipal Actions_4-1-2020

Status of the Municipal Bond EFT Market
The Municipal Bond Market remains open, and the impact to our clients is minimal. Due the COVID-19 crisis and the uncertainty it has introduced in the financial markets, some issues over the course of recent days (for example, many portfolios requiring cash to meet customer redemptions) caused a temporary freeze in demand. However, government stimulus activities, including the ability of the U.S. Federal Reserve to inject liquidity into the market, has enabled the resumption of more normalized market activity. T&M Associates will continue to monitor this developing situation.
For more information: https://www.rollcall.com/2020/03/30/stimulus-bond-fix-may-boost-local-governments-more-than-cash/

Department of the Treasury’s $900 Million Spending Reserve
This will have little to no impact on projects planned by T&M Associates and its construction partners. As part of the State of New Jersey’s response to the pandemic, more than $900 million in spending has been reserved due to fiscal uncertainty. An analysis of the allocations shows that the largest areas affected by this spending freeze will be the Homestead Benefit property tax relief program and the Motor Vehicle Commission. The primary municipal impact is to transitional aid typically provided to urban centers, such as Trenton. Municipal infrastructure and improvement projects are essential to our state, and will continue.
For more information: https://www.nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/20200323g.shtml

Guidance to Municipalities on Accepting Public Bids
Public bids on essential projects are still ongoing. The New Jersey Division of Local Government Services has encouraged the cancellation of public bid openings for non-essential services during the pandemic, but has recommended establishing safe protocols to ensure that essential, time-sensitive projects can continue. This includes road projects.
For more information: https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dlgs/lfns/20/2020-06.pdf

Concerns Regarding Suspension of Public Meetings
Public meetings that impact approvals and timing of municipal projects are still ongoing. A concern among some municipalities is whether the temporary suspension of in-person public meetings will delay construction and other projects. A new legislative bill, recently passed into law as a direct result of this pandemic, allows public entities to conduct public meetings, vote, and receive public comments by electronic means during a state of emergency. The bill also allows public bodies to provide notice of these meetings over the Internet.
For more information: https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2020/Bills/A4000/3850_I1.PDF

Assistance with Bidding/Procurement
We are here to help. We recognize that the logistical impacts of the Executive Order have made some work processes more cumbersome. If you are having difficulty navigating any part of the bidding process — for example, if you need assistance with filling out electronic procurement and sourcing forms — please speak to our T&M Client Manager. Please also get in touch if you have any additional questions about federal and local government actions, and their potential impact.
During and beyond this crisis, T&M Associates is here to provide guidance and support.