The grant writing company owned by a close ally of mayor Andre Sayegh received a larger contract from the Paterson Parking Authority weeks after the new mayor was sworn in, according to government documents.
Contract for Millennium Strategies, a firm owned by Ed Farmer, who worked on the mayor’s campaign and ran a $1,000 per plate fundraiser for him, was increased from $4,000 to $7,000 per month.
“We expanded the scope of service,” explained Tony Perez, director of the Paterson Parking Authority. “I was able to offer the services of Ed through us.”
The Sayegh administration has entered into a shared services agreement with the Paterson Parking Authority for grant writing services. Sayegh campaigned on hiring a grant writer to find money to address neglected municipal parks.
Millennium Strategies received its contract in Oct. 2017, the mayor pointed out. Indeed, the company entered into a contract on Oct. 26, 2017. Its fee was set at $4,000 per month or $50,000 per year, according to Paterson Parking Authority documents.
Perez signed the contract on Oct. 26, 2017 and Farmer signed it on Feb. 28, 2018.
On Jul. 10, 2018, the firm submitted a new proposal for a six-month contract. Its fee was set at $7,000 per month or not to exceed $50,000, according to Paterson Parking Authority documents. Both men’s signatures appear on the contract without dates.
Perez said the old contract was morphed into the new. The Paterson Parking Authority board approved the contract on Aug. 9, 2018.
“We’ve had relations with Millennium going back to 2007,” said Perez. He said the firm helped the Paterson Parking Authority to lure the Motor Vehicle Commission to downtown Paterson and assisted in solving a labor issue with the Center City project. The Paterson Parking Authority has a 99-year ground lease with the Center City Mall, said Perez.
Millennium Strategies was on a four-year hiatus prior to the 2017 contract.
“It got a little cold. There weren’t too many things that were available,” said Perez.
Perez said the firm will not only work to find grants for the city, but also provide assistance with the paperwork that has to be submitted for different projects to utilize the $130 million state tax credits.
The Paterson Parking Authority has submitted a tax credit application for the Ward Street garage project with assistance from the firm, said Perez.
“I definitely feel we can do some great work and we have,” said Farmer on Thursday afternoon. His firm has a more ambitious agenda under the Sayegh administration. A member of his team is onsite working on grants.
Farmer said the firm has applied for eight grants worth $2 million since September. He said the company is working on nine more applications due in December and January.
Millennium Strategies has contracts with 88 municipalities, counties, school districts, and nonprofit organizations in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.
The firm has been successful in securing grant funding for many of its clients. For example, the company has a $72,000 contract with Passaic City, for which it secured $3.4 million in grants. It has a $144,000 contract with Jersey City, for which it secured $7.6 million.
Farmer said the company provides monthly reports to clients of its activities. He said clients receive an annual report showing the grants the firm applied for and its success rate.
The firm’s success in securing grants determines whether it is retained by a client, said Farmer.
“We’ve become the grants department within the city which is what we do for most cities,” said Farmer, who worked as chief of staff to congressman Bill Pascrell. He is a diehard Sayegh supporter.
Farmer played a key role in the mayor’s landslide victory in May. He also worked in Sayegh’s past political campaigns.
“I believe in him. I, 100-percent, believe in him,” said Farmer.
Sayegh would have found it impossible to get a measure through the mildly hostile City Council to hire Farmer’s company.
“This was inevitable,” said council vice president Michael Jackson when told of the contract increase.
Upon entering office, Sayegh had a discussion with his cabinet, including heads of statutory agencies, about hiring a grant writer. This discussion ultimately led to the shared services agreement with the Paterson Parking Authority and the contract increase.
“This wasn’t anybody twisting my arm,” said Perez. He said he worked under eight previous mayors.