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NH town managers worry about business health, infrastructure

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Published: Mar. 8, 2021 at 1:03 PM EST
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CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Looking beyond the pending coronavirus relief package, some town managers in New Hampshire worry about the future of small businesses, infrastructure projects and making sure older adults are taken care of.

“Businesses are trying to reopen, they’re trying to have some normalcy, but if they don’t survive, we’re going to have a lot of empty storefronts” and concern about a property tax base loss, said Steve Fournier, Newmarket town manager, during a call hosted Monday by U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

“We’re hearing that once everybody gets vaccinated, that we’ll have a little bump in the economy, but I’m afraid of the effect after that if there is a fall,” Fournier said.

Shaheen said there is some funding in the pending $1.9 trillion package for small businesses, with those that have fewer than 10 employees getting earlier access to loan programs, and for those that have lost more than 25% of revenues in the last year because of COVID-19.

Some managers are hoping for money for infrastructure projects. A fund in the package is included to help state and local governments with them.

Butch Burbank, town manager in Lincoln, said the town is planning for the expansion of water storage facilities for fire protection and is hoping money could be funneled to that project.

He also expressed concern about retaining workers in service industries, and Shaheen said the relief package contains funding for job retraining, and the restaurant industry.

In Sunapee, Town Manager Donna Nashawaty said more broadband expansion funds would be welcome. About 350 people with second homes in the area have moved during the pandemic, she said.

Nashawaty also expressed concern that there still may be some seniors who are still isolated.

Shaheen said there is funding in the bill that will help with services for seniors, including mental health programs.

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