TOMS RIVER – Gov. Chris Christie announced $28 million in funding here for essential services such as the police department in the wake of last year’s Superstorm Sandy.
Christie said Wednesday the money will help Toms River avoid massive tax hikes in order to fund essential services. The town will receive $15.5 million and the board of education will receive $12.5 million, he said.
There is $60 million in total available for such grants under a federal Sandy disaster recovery program, and so far $44.9 million has been awarded to 11 towns, Christie said, with other applications under consideration.
After Sandy hit last October, Toms River lost 18 percent of its ratable base, according to Christie, but demand for essential services has increased. If Toms River had not been OK’d for this grant, police layoffs would have occurred, funding to first aid squads would have been reduced, and a tax hike of 30 to 40 percent would have been necessary.
He said that the town would have been forced to lay off 30 to 40 officers, roughly 25 percent of its force.
A grant such as this is necessary “so not even more damage is done to Toms River in the aftermath than was done originally,’’ Christie said.
In order to qualify, towns must show that they have applied for all other available insurance and federal assistance, demonstrate restraints to minimize the need for such aid, and agree that the money goes to essential services.