Sunday, May 19, 2013
By Jonathan Riskind email@example.com
Washington Bureau Chief
WASHINGTON — Maine will get less federal homeland security funding this year to distribute to local first responders.
Maine will receive $2.8 million in State Homeland Security Grant Program funding for 2012, down from $5.1 million last year, according to the office of Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the top Republican on the Senate homeland security committee.
That's money that can help buy new equipment or train local fire and police departments how to better respond to disasters ranging from a terrorist attack to a hazardous chemical spill.
It's a cut that had been expected because federal homeland security funding for states has been on the wane in recent years. Nationally, homeland security grant funding decreased to $1.3 billion this year, from $2.1 billion in 2011.
The State Homeland Security Grant Program is run by the Maine Emergency Management Agency, which keeps 20 percent of the grant to cover administrative costs and shares the balance with county and local agencies. Its 2011 allocation of $5.1 million was already a big decrease from $6.6 million in 2010.
Bruce Fitzgerald, MEMA deputy director, said the agency now will focus on spending grant money to help local communities maintain existing equipment and programs, rather than funding new purchases and initiatives.
The state gets a slight increase, however, for the Emergency Management Performance Grants Program, $3.4 million this year from $3.3 million last year. That program sends money out to the state's 16 county emergency management agencies and local agencies.
It's possible, but not likely, that Maine could apply for more state homeland security and emergency management performance grant money, because the grant amounts for those totals are considered minimums and states allowed to seek more money. However, last year, Maine didn't receive more money above the minimum amount for those programs.
The state and local communities also can apply for other types of homeland security funding, including port and border security programs.
The city of Portland last year got a $1 million grant for port security, for instance.
While federal homeland security money for state programs has decreased, Maine has received a total of more than $200 million overall in various federal homeland security grants since 2002, according to Collins.
MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: Twitter.com/MaineTodayDC