Towns rush to get COVID-19 grants in before deadline

All but three towns had completed applications to receive COVID-19 grant money before a Wednesday deadline, according to Taylor Caswell, left, director of the Governor's Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery. Gov. Chris Sununu said if needed he would grant a five-day extension for any paperwork that's late.  Two weeks ago, officials from more than 70 towns had failed to apply for the $20 million those communities were entitled to over the next two years.

CONCORD — State officials said all but a small handful of towns have applied for federal COVID-19 relief grants before a Wednesday deadline.

Gov. Chris Sununu said, if needed, he would grant local officials from a few communities a five-day extension to get their paperwork into the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery (GOFERR).

The Union Leader reported two weeks ago that more than 70 communities had yet to apply for $20 million in grants they were entitled to over the next two years.

GOFERR Director Taylor Caswell said earlier Wednesday his staff was waiting to get completed applications from officials in three towns.

Selectmen from one community, the North Country town of Dummer, had turned down the grant offered to all communities based on population.

Sununu said Congress made the application too complicated, and that some part-time municipal staffers were concerned the town would have to pay back to the federal government any money not spent within the program’s guidelines.

The money can be spent not only to cover COVID-19 expenses and to make up for any revenue losses due to the pandemic, but also for infrastructure work such as water and sewer projects.