For Immediate Release - August 06, 2009

$20 MILLION IN FEDERAL STIMULUS FUNDS COMMITTED TO MASSACHUSETTS FIRE DEPARTMENTS

$71 million in total AARA funds aiding police and fire departments, Governor reminds municipalities to apply for funds by August 21 deadline

BOSTON - Thursday, August 6, 2009 - Moving to help communities impacted by layoffs and high rates of attrition, Governor Deval Patrick today announced he will direct $20 million in federal stimulus funds to municipal fire departments across the Commonwealth. The Governor also urged both municipal fire and police departments to apply by the August 21 st deadline for a total $26 million in public safety funding Massachusetts is set to receive through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Today's announcement is on top of $45 million in previously committed ARRA funding going directly from the federal government to municipal police departments across the state. In total, $71 million in federal recovery funds are being directed to local public safety officials who continue to face difficult budget challenges caused by the unprecedented global economic downturn.

"These funds will help local police and fire departments keep professionals on the job, and the public's safety preserved," said Governor Patrick.

Under ARRA, some funds for public safety are administrated by state government and some is provided directly to cities and towns by the federal government. The Governor made a commitment to address staffing reductions in municipal police and fire departments. Accordingly, EOPSS has launched two public safety grant programs: $5.9 million will be awarded through a competitive grant program to municipal police departments, and $20 million will be awarded through a competitive grant program to municipal fire departments.

According to the Commonwealth's Civil Service Division, approximately 112 firefighters in 12 communities across the state have been laid off and are on the rehire list, while 118 police officers in 11 communities have been laid off. The intent of the federal stimulus funding is to rehire as many of these public safety professionals as possible and to prevent further layoffs in other communities; address staffing reductions caused by attrition; and give communities flexibility in dealing with reduced public safety budgets.

"Public safety is a critical priority for this administration and we need to use every dollar available to keep firefighters and police officers on the street protecting our communities," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray.

ARRA funds being awarded to Massachusetts municipal police and fire departments include:
 

  • $5.9 million in Byrne/JAG ARRA funds being distributed by EOPSS in a competitive grant program to address staffing reductions
  • $15.7 million in Byrne/JAG ARRA funds being distributed directly by the Department of Justice to 147 local police departments.
  • $700,000 in Violence Against Women (VAWA) ARRA funds being distributed by EOPSS to police departments in a competitive grant program
  • $28.98 million in Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) ARRA funds being distributed by the Department of Justice to 13 local police departments.
  • $20 million in discretionary ARRA funds to be distributed by EOPSS to municipal fire departments to address staffing reductions.

Additionally, a number of local police departments have applied for funds under the Byrne/JAG ARRA competitive grant program administered by the Department of Justice.

The ARRA includes only one program for local fire departments. The Act makes $210 million available nationally through a competitive grant program to support the construction and renovation of local fire stations. The ARRA does not earmark any stimulus money to fire departments to bolster staffing or for programs that have been reduced or eliminated as a result of the current recession.

"We owe it to our firefighters and police to make damn well sure that despite tough economic times, we will make the investments necessary for them to do their jobs the best way they know how and keep our communities safe," said Senator Kerry.

"Our police officers and firefighters are hometown heroes, but even heroes need help. These vital funds will help keep cops on the beat and keep firefighters on the street, protecting our communities and keeping the public safe," said Congressman Edward Markey.

"The police and firefighters in Massachusetts must have the resources necessary to do their jobs effectively. This federal stimulus money will help them make our cities and towns a safer place to live and work. I strongly urge local officials to apply for these funds," said Congressman Richard E. Neal.

"Given the current economic conditions, this additional funding will help police and fire departments meet budget shortfalls, and ensure that essential public safety personnel are out protecting our communities," said Congressman William Delahunt.

"It is essential that the federal government play a strong role in supporting our local law enforcement agencies," said Congressman Jim McGovern. "I look forward to ensuring that all of our communities receive the help that they need."

"This will be welcome news to local communities who have faced job cuts for fire fighters and police officers. I am particularly pleased that the Governor chose to use $20M in federal ARRA funds to assist those communities that have been forced to lay off public safety officers," said U.S. Representative John F. Tierney.

"I know that many of our towns and cities are struggling to maintain adequate public safety staffing requirements. Hopefully this stimulus funding will prevent impending layoffs and will be used to sustain the courageous service provided by our police and fire department personnel," said Congressman Stephen F. Lynch.

"Public safety grant programs like the COPS and FIRE grant programs have been and continue to be a critical means by which the federal government can provide desperately needed resources to local first responders." said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. "Many municipalities are facing budget shortages which are forcing them to contemplate laying off first responders or even closing down stations. This is an effective and necessary use of Recovery Act funds."

"Governor Patrick and Lt. Governor Murray have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to assist the fire services, as no other significant funding streams to address staffing issues at local departments is currently available," said Public Safety Secretary Kevin Burke.

The application for funding is August 21 st, and hundreds of communities have already applied. To learn more, go to: http://www.mass.gov/eopss.

 

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