NORWAY — Police Chief Rob Federico told selectmen Thursday he will apply for a COPS grant that, if approved, may provide the funding to retain a police officer position that is in jeopardy of being cut.

“We wouldn’t know in time to make a decision at town meeting, but it may make a difference whether we lay off someone,” Federico said.

The department is currently using a four-year U.S. Department of Justice COPS Hiring Program grant to pay for one its officers, but one year must be paid for by the town. Because of that, officials initially decided not to reapply for the grant this year to save money. Without the grant, the officer position would be cut on Dec. 31.

Earlier this month, Federico told the Budget Committee that if an officer had to be laid off, the drug investigator position would most likely be eliminated.

Budget Committee members said they want to retain the drug investigator position which prompted Federico to look at the CHP funding again. By coincidence, he received an email this week about the program with information for applicants.

The grant covers up to 75 percent of the approved entry-level salary and benefits for three years (36 months) for a full-time newly hired or rehired officer. A minimum local 25 percent cash match is required.

Although the timeline is short to apply, Federico said it is probable the town would be notified by the fall if they received the money.

“There’s nothing really to lose,” he said of applying for the grant.

Town Manager David Holt said that under one of two budgets presented, the position is slated to be cut on Dec. 31, and one employee would have to be laid off unless other sources of funding were found for the new fiscal year, which begins on July 1.

Town Manager David Holt asked all department heads to submit two budgets this year — one assuming Gov. Paul LePage would cut $250,000 from Norway’s revenue sharing. Federico submitted a $437,225 budget developed under the assumption the LePage cuts will occur. Federico also presented his budget of $482,062 without the revenue sharing cut.

One of the changes in this year’s grant is that towns that indicate the officer’s position would be deployed as a school resource officer or towns that take steps to hire at least one military veteran will receive additional consideration for the CHP funding.

Holt said that he and Federico have discussed using a Norway officer to do the school resource officer’s job – something that Paris police officers have done for years. Because there is no existing contrast and no one in Paris would be laid off a result, Holt said they feel “obligated” to explore that possibility.

Under the Norway police contract, if a layoff occurs, the newest hire will be taken off the rolls.

Holt said that town meeting would have to approve any CHP funding, if the town received it.

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