Essex County Responds to Lead Crisis with $120M for the City of Newark

Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo commanded the podium in the county’s Sheila Oliver Conference Room and declared that he wants a long-term solution to the Newark Water Crisis to happen sooner rather than later.

The Essex County Improvement Authority will bond 120 million for the City of Newark “to use only for its pipe replacement program,” the county executive said.

“We are able to borrow money at a significantly lower rate,” said DiVincenzo, who – in the middle of ongoing political tensions in the Democratic Party – over the last number of days met with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, whom the county executive praised for addressing the lead contamination crisis.

DiVincenzo said the county is uniquely poised to help the city because it enjoys a triple A bond rating.

At this morning’s press conference announcing the emergency appropriation, the county executive also had kind words for Governor Phil Murphy. “He was on this issue,” DiVincenzo said. “I want to thank the governor for the support you have given the city.”

Baraka thanked DiVincenzo and the county.

“We’re going to get this done as swiftly as humanly possible,” the mayor said. “We [are going to] get this done as aggressively as we can.”

DiVincenzo later introduced U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-10).

The New York Times described it this way:

Hanging over the announcement on Monday was the growing frustration local officials have with the response from the federal government. Mr. Baraka, Gov. Philip D. Murphy and local officials have been calling on the E.P.A. and officials in Washington to provide financial assistance to Newark as they struggle to contain the lead crisis.

“The one that’s lacking is the federal government,” said Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr., the Essex County executive. He turned to Representative Donald Payne Jr., the only congressman in attendance, and said, “You’ve got to bring home the cash.”

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