Town holds out hope for receiving funds

It’s hard to find a downside to living or working in a town that enjoys relatively strong economic health and an enviably low crime rate. But there’s at least one, Amherst town officials learned in an announcement from Washington this week.

The town’s application for a grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – the federal stimulus program – to fund the majority of a new police position has all but been denied, Town Administrator Gary MacGuire said Wednesday.

Officials had hoped to receive roughly $82,000 through the ARRA’s COPS program, which helps communities keep or hire police officers that they otherwise would have to lay off or go without because of budget constraints.

Amherst’s hopes are still alive, but barely, MacGuire said. “We’re listed as ‘status pending,’ which means we haven’t officially been denied, but I’d say our chances aren’t good,” he said.

Because of its economic health and low crime, Amherst ranks near the bottom on the list of communities deemed neediest in terms of ARRA funding, MacGuire said.

New Hampshire will get a total of $5.13 million in COPS funding to save or create 24 new police positions statewide, according to the announcement from U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s office.

Manchester will get the most positions – 10 – while Rochester will get three and Keene, two, MacGuire said.

The communities of Alexandria, Alton, Claremont, Concord, Epping, Franklin, Lincoln, Plymouth and Wakefield will get one position each.