Trenton mayor proposes giving stimulus money ($500) directly to residents

It’s the age-old question of public money: Should governments give more to individuals and let them spend it as they wish — or is it better served being spent by the government on bigger programs?

Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora wants to do both.

Part of his proposal for the nearly $73 million the city received from the American Rescue Plan includes $500 checks for the city’s approximately 28,000 households — a stimulus-type check that would cost the city approximately $15 million.

“We felt this was a good way to help people catch up on their rent, catch up on their utility bills, make a down payment on their property taxes,” Gusciora told NJ Advance Media on Thursday. “We get it that a lot of people are in dire times and it’s difficult for them to get back on their feet after a year of being in the pandemic.”

Gusciora told NJ Advance Media the plan was developed with other city officials, but that he is unsure of whether or not the city council will approve it.

Some have suggested the checks aren’t enough to have real impact.

“The council president said she’d like more money into the hands of residents, and so would I, but if you double or triple it, that would take up a lot of the economic recovery dollars coming into the city,” Gusciora told NJ Advance Media. “I think our plan is a really good balance between all of the needs of the city.”