While the new Republican majority in Congress are looking to slash the federal budget by cutting funding to hire local police officers, there is some good news ....the Atlantic City and Camden Fire Departments will receive over $14 million dollars from the federal government in order to hire firefighters. The grant is for two years only. In Atlantic City, officials will use the grant funds to rehire over 30 firefighters that were laid off as well as 21 additional new hires. Atlantic City received $9.7 million while Camden received over $5 million.
Senator Frank Lautenberg announced the grant awards on his website http://lautenberg.senate.gov/newsroom/record.cfm?id=331011& . Senator Lautenberg is Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security. The grants were awarded under a grant from FEMA funded by the Subcommittee.
While the possibility of Camden rehiring firefighters is welcome news, local police are not having the same luck. The Camden City Council rejected yesterday a property tax increase of over 20% that would have been used to help rehire police officers. Camden laid off about 160 police officers and 60 firefighters recently due to budgetary problems. The State approved the Mayor's request to present a 23% property tax increase.
Let's hope the federal money being used to assist cities like Atlantic City and Camden does not come under attack by the new Republican majority in Congress in their hasty efforts to cut the federal domestic spending by $100 billion. As noted, one of the programs on the Republican's hit list is the $298 million program instituted by former President Bill Clinton designed to hire local police officers. So far the funds for fire fighters has not been mentioned.