Decrease In Anti-Terror Dollars For Cities Across Nation
Dozens of cities will receive less federal money this year than last for anti-terror programs, The Associated Press has reported.
The grant list, released by the Homeland Security Department, shows that 43 cities are in line for fewer dollars in the current budget year than they got a year earlier.
According to an early copy of the list obtained by the AP, more money is heading to three large cities — Houston, New York and San Francisco — from the $782 million in the Urban Area Security Initiative to help pay for equipment and training.
Houston is set to receive $37.5 million, a 50 percent increase from 2007. Also, 14 cities that were not on the list last year have been added.
Homeland Security officials have said legislation passed by Congress required them to add those cities; lawmakers contend the law only required them to consider a longer list.
After the department’s review of grant applications, the news is not as good for more than three dozen cities, from Dallas to Detroit and Seattle to St. Louis. In many cases, cities will lose several hundred thousand dollars from grants in the millions. Baltimore, for example, will get $11.5 million, $350,000 less than in the budget year that ended Sept. 30, 2007. But Los Angeles’ total will fall by about $2 million, to $70.4 million, and Newark, N.J., will get about $1 million less — now $35 million.
Most of the money goes to the seven areas considered at highest risk of terrorist attack: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, New York, San Francisco and the District of Columbia.
The grants come from one of the department’s most popular and debated post-Sept. 11 programs. Every year, the list pleases and angers elected officials based on which cities are added or dropped. Last year, the list contained 45 metropolitan areas, and Congress insisted the government consider as many as 100.
The department says the spending decisions are not the result of specific threats or concerns but reflect an overall analysis of threat data. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has argued that city officials should not focus on year-to-year fluctuations because they are the result of broader, national calculations, and an overall spending figure for the program dictated by Congress.
Mayors of the biggest cities, particularly New York’s Michael Bloomberg, have claimed the list should be pared down to funnel more dollars to those places at greatest risk; mayors of mid-sized cities insist terrorists do not ignore them, and neither should the government.