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April 16, 2020
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  Executive Directors Message  


It seems as if there is no shortage of things to report to NJGCA members. The staff has been busy trying to stay abreast of current events in real time, and answer many members who legitimately need assistance. Sometimes it takes all day for the staff to assemble the daily update, and often much of what has been written changes before the email is sent. I will tell you that I am very proud of NJGCA members as we all deal with a crisis never experienced by anyone alive before. I know this has been difficult, but one thing I have learned since opening my Exxon station exactly 42 years ago, is that Small Business owners - the people who sign both sides of the paycheck, have the fortitude to get through very difficult situations. This may be the toughest we have faced yet, but if anyone can figure out how to get through this it will be a Small Business owner, and especially an NJGCA member. We don't have a choice except to be tough and innovative. Our families depend on us, and our employees and their families depend on us. The feeling of accomplishment will far out last the memory of a difficult time when we reflect back on all of this in the future. Grab your coffee (or a beer since this is being sent later in the day) and please read today's update which happens to be our weekly Road Warrior email.
Over the past few weeks, NJGCA has been working closely with other business organizations and coalitions appealing to elected officials at both the state and federal level to protect small businesses in the rebuilding and relief efforts as a result of the Coronavirus. As you all know, we have been sending our own appeals to the governor and legislature. We are also joining on to other coalition efforts to help all small businesses. We recently signed on to a coalition letter that was sent to the governor and leadership that asks the governor to consider using additional CARES funding to expand NJEDA relief programs. The EDA has launched two solid programs so far, but the funding for both ran out within the first hour after applications were open. You can read that letter HERE
Those of you with gas pumps are all no doubt aware of the basics of the switch from winter to summer blend gas that occurs around this time every year. We've received some calls from some members asking about the status of this change. Two weeks ago the NJ Dept. of Consumer Affairs which enforces this regulation in NJ, following the lead of the federal EPA, provided a waiver from the requirements for the refiners, who are the first stop in the supply chain that is responsible for the switchover. You can read the official order from DEP HERE.

We don't know how much further these delays will go for the simple reason that there is so much supply of winter blend gasoline that there is no place to put it all, every terminal, truck, pipeline, and barge is full. The refiners have no place to put gasoline and until these inventories are gone, it will be a while before we have summer-blend being delivered to retailers. Technically, the inventories need to be cleaned out in all the pipelines and storage tanks so what you are selling on June 1st is summer blend. I don't see that happening. The switchover normally takes place on April 1st and the object is so that what you sell on June 1st is 100% summer blend. That is not happening. We may very well be selling winter-blend into next winter. They LITERALLY have no place to put all the gasoline. Unless people start burning through gas in large quantities, they may have to consider shutting down some refineries, which is a real possibility. 

Any NJGCA Member with ASE certifications that will expire on June 30, 2020 have been granted a six-month extension. 

Any technicians who have an ASE certification expiring on June 30, 2020, will now have their certification extended to December 31, 2020.

You may have learned of this information through outside resources, as the news was recently made public by ASE.  You can read the full details by clicking HERE

If anyone needs to confirm their expiration dates, please visit myASE to review the certification status. Reminders can also be created to help you keep track of your expiration dates in the future.
As we've previously reported, a number of Members have reached out to us regarding your monthly "Break/Fix" charges from Parsons (the same monthly charge that were previously garnished from SGS before the changeover in January/February). Since many repair shops are not performing inspections due to the current COVID-19 crisis, we reached out to Parsons to inquire about any potential relief for Members until the current State of Emergency is over. 

To combat this problem, Parsons has offered to defer payments (without any late fees) for any PIFs who have had a substantial decrease in inspection volume. This will be done on a case-by-case basis.

Upon receiving a request, Parsons will review the individual PIF's history to determine if there has been at least a 50% drop off in vehicle inspections. Once Governor Murphy has re-opened the state, Parsons will delay collecting any deferred payment amounts by 60-days. Once the 60-day grace period has expired, PIFs will make "double payments" each month until arrearages are paid and their account is brought current. Anyone seeking a deferment should submit a request through the billing department by calling the PIF Support line at (888) 665-2009 (Option 2).

While many members may have hoped that any payments could have been discontinued altogether, it is important to note that MVC requires that all active workstations must maintain a service agreement in order to participate in the PIF program. As repair facilities and station owners are deemed "essential", Parsons is required to continue to service workstations during the emergency. If you call for service they are still required to come.
The possibility of deferring payment during the crisis is appreciated, and any station owners who wish to take advantage of this offer should call the PIF Support line, outlined above. 
Again, thank you to the members that have been sending us email updates and sent us more overnight. These emails to us are important because your situations are changing daily and we need to know how they are changing.

This issue is of interest to the press, and has gotten the attention of NJTV news and WNYC radio. 

I am expecting that today News 12 will begin airing our story. They interviewed me this morning and should also be interviewing some members and their customers at their locations. In case you missed it, The Bergen Record had a reporter on site yesterday and filmed a motorist rejecting her change in order to reduce any further contact with the gas attendant. This video was taken at Tim Arata's location in Ridgefield Park.

I need you to tell me as often as you can your situations with employees and being able to remain open or maintain your hours. At this point, I would like to send your emails directly to the press. Many of the emails we receive are perfect examples of what we have been explaining to the governor. When you send your update to us, please let us know if we have permission to send to a reporter. We will never send your communication to a reporter if you do not wish for us to do so.

We wrote the other day about efforts to require Workers Comp insurance carriers to cover employees that have been infected with COVID-19 19 and cannot work, or God forbid die.  A major concern is that may open the door to "wrongful death" lawsuits. NJGCA has been working with our coalition partners to oppose these efforts. Currently, Insurance Carriers are navigating uncharted waters in every insurance market. Members have had many questions and concerns. Thankfully, I was contacted by NJGCA MBP Amato Agency who offered some advice based on what members have been asking us, and their clients have been asking them.

This is an incredibly tough time, as revenues have dropped or disappeared entirely.  Insurance coverage is still just as important (AND NEEDED AND REQUIRED BY LAW IN MANY INSTANCES) to protect your business during this time. It is strongly recommended not allowing insurance policies to cancel because of a lack of money or a fear of needing the money for other purposes. Instead of letting a policy cancel, you should first call the company or the agent and ask for help. Most insurance companies are generally willing to defer payments, extend payment plans or do whatever else helps the business. 
Some additional recommendations are:
Workers compensation insurance - Many insurance carriers are willing to switch policies, mid-term, to "pay as you go" reporting policies. If your payroll has dropped, this can help with immediate cash flow, as you will only pay premiums on actual payroll paid out (instead of an annual estimate). If the carrier does not allow a mid-term switch or you prefer not to go to this type of reporting, you should also ask your agent to reduce your annual payroll estimate for the policy term. This will reduce your premiums now, instead of waiting to get the money back after an audit.
Liability insurance Work with your agent to come up with a new estimate of gallons and receipts, based on this downturn. The carrier can change your premiums now, instead of at audit time.
Personal auto insurance - Since many people are either not driving their cars or have reduced driving, the exposure has decreased.  Many insurance carriers have already stated they are giving credits to all policyholders based on this assumption. If your company has not already notified you of this, give them a call and ask if they are offering it.
Commercial auto insurance - If your business is not currently using cars listed on a commercial auto policy, ask your agent if your carrier will offer some type of "lay-up" period and give you a credit for not using the vehicles. 
Finally, the governor signed an order requiring insurance companies AND premium finance companies, NOT to cancel policies for non-payment of premium. If you get a cancellation notice, make sure the company is aware of this order from the State. You will still owe the premiums at some point in the future, but you are not allowed to be canceled right now. You should still try to pay your premiums by working with your company to come up with arrangements and changes as noted above, since you will still owe the premiums.
ALL NJGCA MEMBERS --- Whether you are a client, former client or never a client of Amato Agency, feel free to call with any questions. Amato Agency is an NJGCA MBP and promises to assist all NJGCA members. Contact Joe Jr. at 732-530-6740 ex 412 or joejr@amatoagency.com

Both houses of the State Legislature met remotely on Monday to vote on a package of emergency bills dealing with the crisis. Below is some information on the bills most relevant to your business. Only two of the below bills have made it to the Governor's desk.

A-3903 allows notaries to perform their duties remotely during the current state of emergency, it has been signed into law. 

S-2363 provides that during this specific State of Emergency, the governor has the ability to issue an executive order that declares that a "distressed small business tenant" may assert an emergency rent suspension for a period of up to 3 months. The period would last from when the business notifies their landlord they are distressed. Repayment shall be on a set schedule of between 6-9 months, beginning the first day of the second month following the end of the state of emergency. A distressed small business is defined as 50 or fewer employees on 02/10/20 and does not have monthly revenue that exceeds 80% of tenant's reasonable expectations of monthly revenue during the same season prior to pandemic. That definition could be altered by the governor though. It passed both houses and is currently on the governor's desk. It is not known whether or not he will sign it, and if he signs it if he will issue the order. 

S-2341 would expand an existing power the governor has under state of emergency law to restrict rent increases for residential renters and expands it to include small business retail (specifically businesses with fewer than 20 people prior to the start of the emergency, and which functions "primarily to serve customers directly in the distribution of food, beverages, goods, or services at one or more physical location"). Called a Notice of Rent Protection Emergency, the governor must certify "unconscionable rental practices are likely to occur" in the current environment. He could either freeze or cap the rate of rental increase. It passed the Senate only, and still needs to see action in the Assembly. 

S-2347 would require the NJ Economic Development Authority (EDA) to set up a program where small businesses can come to individual agreements with the EDA to defer payments of all taxes due (including sales tax) and pay it back later. Only would apply to businesses with up to 10 full time equivalent employees in each of the 4 previous calendar quarters. Owners are personally liable for paying the money back, 50% would be due 6/30/21, the rest due 6/30/22. It passed the Senate but has not moved in the Assembly.

S-2348 would allow businesses with up to 10 full time equivalent employees at any point in 2019 to get a tax credit equal to 20% of the credit received under the Employee Retention Credit of the CARES Act (however, a business can only get that credit if they don't take a PPP loan, few small businesses would choose that credit over the PPP loan). It passed the Senate but has not moved in the Assembly.

S-2346 would automatically extend permits, any government approval in existence on 3/9/20 or granted during this period would be extended to up to 6 months after the end of the state of emergency. A similar bill was made law during the 2008 great recession. The bill was posted on voting lists in both houses but pulled from consideration. 

S-2339 concerns certain types of leave, among other changes it would have permanently removed the provision of the law which allows employers with under 30 employees to be exempt from the requirement that they reinstate an employee who uses NJ state family leave. This burden on small business has been considered several times over the last few years and was rejected, it is deeply concerning that advocates would try and sneak a permanent change like this through in the middle of this crisis, when there are no public committee hearings and the language of these bills is only being published a day before they are voted on. Thankfully, the bill was pulled from consideration. 

Be Well -  
Sal Risalvato
Executive Director




  Training Class Schedule  

All classes held at NJGCA HQ -- 4900 Route 33 West, Wall Township, NJ 07753

Two-Day Emissions Inspector Training Class
April 22nd & 23rd

Want your technicians to become a NJ Emissions Inspector? We can help!

Our new two-day class will provide all the information for becoming a NJ Emissions Inspector. Day one will consist of written test training and the State will administer the written test the very same day at our offices. Day two will be a hands-on training course to prepare you for the hands-on test. Class will run from 7:00am to 4:00pm on day 1. Class will begin at 12:30 PM on day 2. Cost is $479 for members.

April class registration click here




  News Around The State  

Rescue Fund to Run Dry Today, Leaving Small Firms Shut Out
A $349 billion federal relief program for U.S. small businesses is expected to run out of money this afternoon, with many still waiting to get a lifeline, according to officials familiar with the situation. The government-guaranteed loans are available on a first-come first-served basis. But without more funding, many small businesses that have flooded banks with applications won't get help, advocates said. As of early afternoon on Wednesday, the U.S. Small Business Administration reported there had been almost 1.4 million applications approved, totaling about $301 billion of the $349 billion set aside. That's the value of loans the agency has approved for lenders to disburse, not money that has reached borrowers. The program, which launched April 3, is running out of money after just 13 days.

'That Was A Waste Of My Time.' Small Businesses Fume As Coronavirus Aid Keeps Running Out.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of New Jersey business owners like Jakuboski will face similar rejection as the state confronts the painful economic fallout of social distancing measures health experts say saved thousands of lives in exchange for shuttered shops and businesses. The EDA set aside $10 million for businesses with less than $5 million in annual revenue to apply to borrow up to $100,000. Loans are interest-free for five years and then rates will be capped at 3 percent. But there's simply not enough money to help all the businesses that were hurt. By 9 p.m. Monday, there were 2,480 applications requesting $180.1 million in loans. The program was "oversubscribed" when it had received roughly the first 100 applications, Tim Sullivan, who heads the EDA, said Tuesday.

Sweeney Backs Bill Expanding Workers Comp For Coronavirus To All Essential Workers
Senate President Stephen Sweeney said he will introduce a bill Monday making it easier for essential workers who contract the coronavirus to qualify for workers' compensation. The bill would remove the requirement that workers deemed essential during the pandemic and who become sick prove they contracted the coronavirus at work.

When Will We Get Back To Normal? Here's The Way Out Of Coronavirus Quarantine In N.J.
"What you don't want to do is lift everything, have everyone rush back to what normal was before the quarantine and then have a dramatic second peak - an acceleration of new cases again," said Stephanie Silvera, an epidemiologist and professor at Montclair State University. No single measure is going to stop the spread of the virus or help New Jersey get back to normal. But the state government can and should be doing more, health experts say.

Card Swipe Fees Under Scrutiny
If fighting the coronavirus isn't enough, Visa and Mastercard will probably stick with their planned increase to swipe fees for many smaller merchants sometime this year, the Wall Street Journal reports. While neither card company would say clearly whether the hikes would go forward in July, the companies said they were offering financial assistance to small businesses, specifically $210 million (Visa) and $250 million (Mastercard). Jared Scheeler, CEO of the Hub Convenience Stores, said his six-location company shelled out close to $400,000 in card fees, including swipe fees, for 2019. Credit- and debit-card fees gobbled up 2.12% of the chain's total 2019 sales, up from 1.99% in 2018 and 1.93% in 2017.

That Trip To The Mvc Can Wait. Agency Closed Until End Of April.
Drivers will have to put off that planned trip to state Motor Vehicle Commission's agencies and inspection stations at least until late April. Chief Administrator Sue Fulton said the MVC's agencies, inspection stations and road testing facilities will remain closed at least until April 27, due to the coronavirus outbreak.


  Energy Information Agency Weekly Retail Gasoline Prices  
Each week, the Energy Information Administration publishes a list of average gasoline prices for the previous three weeks. NJGCA will begin including this list with the Weekly Road Warrior. Remember, these prices are reflective of self-serve everywhere except NJ.


  Member Benefit Partner Message Board  



  Classifieds: For Sale and Help Wanted Ads  



Business For Sale: Monmouth County gas station and repair shop in business since 2001 is for sale. Owner is relocating out of state and is interested in selling business and equipment. Owner is open to limited financing. Business has a strong 10 year lease. The building has two repair bays and the gas pumps are leased to a large independent tenant. Repair shop business currently employs a Manager and two full-time Technicians. For inquiries and more info, please call Mark at 908-670-7798.

New! Parts For Sale: Incon TS-1000 tank monitor works well just taken out of service. Printer is aprox 2 months old. Also, Incon 8, tank probes. System replaced because on an Exxon upgrade. Call John Twin Towers Exxon (201) 224-8444