Most U.S. cities have received little or none of the money the federal government has allocated for handling potential terrorism because states are ill-equipped to pass it on to the cities, a survey of mayors has found.
The Baltimore Sun says a report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that more than three-fourths of the cities have received no money. Under that program, $1.5 billion was sent to states to pay for first responders and security for possible terrorist targets.
Mayor Martin O’Malley of Baltimore, who is co-chairman of the task force that produced the report, said Baltimore is faring only slightly better. The city has received several million dollars, but it is $18 million in the red for security costs, much of it resulting from the periodic raising of the nation’s terrorism threat level. It also has $20 million in additional funding requests that have not been met.
“The money is not reaching the population and economic centers of this country,” O’Malley said. “It is tied up primarily in administrative and bureaucratic knots in 50 state capitals across the country.”
A spokesman for the Homeland Security Department said, “It is far more effective to have a statewide strategy than to award directly to localities.”
Kristen Mahoney of the Baltimore Police Department said state officials seem to lack understanding of how to disburse the money and are usually slow to act on the city’s requests. Maryland is holding more than $10 million allocated for “urban area security” but has paid out only $1 million, which went largely to cover costs associated with the most recent raising of the terrorism alert level.
Noting that most federal money is bottled up in state offices, James A. Garner, mayor of Hempstead, N.Y., and president of the Conference of Mayors, called the situation “unacceptable.” He added: “Homeland security money went to the states by Federal Express, but it’s coming to the cities by Pony Express.”