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Allegany, Garrett get thousands in federal funds

Allegany, Garrett get thousands in federal funds

Department of Homeland security grant awards decreased for both counties

Megan Miller
Cumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND — Allegany and Garrett counties have been allocated thousands of federal dollars in Department of Homeland Security grants, according to a news release from the office of Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Through the State Homeland Security Grant program, the federal department allocates funding annually to Maryland’s state government, which in turn distributes the money to county emergency management and law enforcement agencies. The funding is intended to support homeland security projects and preparation at the local level.

Allegany received $233,182, down from about $270,000 in 2008, according to Dick DeVore, chief of the emergency management division of the Allegany County Department of Public Safety. Garrett County received $154,362, about 10 percent less than its allocation in 2008, said Public Safety and Emergency Management Director Brad Frantz. Since fiscal 2007, Allegany has received a total of $822,700 in federal homeland security funds, while Garrett has received $544,000.

The federal department allocated just under $17 million to Maryland in fiscal 2009, part of $861.3 million distributed nationwide.

Garrett County law enforcement will receive about 25 percent of the county’s total allocation. Sheriff Gary Berkebile said one of his top priorities for that money is to develop communication interoperability among county emergency services.

“We’re glad to have it and we will put it to good use,” he added.

Allegany County will take advantage of an opportunity provided by a slight change in funding use guidelines, DeVore said.

“Prior to this round of funding, if equipment was purchased with the money it was the county’s responsibility to pay for maintenance,” he explained. “This round of funding now allows us to provide some maintenance to equipment we’ve already purchased.”

At least 25 percent of the funds must be used for planning, training or exercises for law enforcement terrorism prevention, according to the federal department. Up to 50 percent of the grants can be used to pay personnel costs, including operational overtime, intelligence sharing, participation in trainings and hiring consultants. No more than 3 percent can be used for management and administrative costs.

In a Dec. 8 news release, department secretary Janet Napolitano announced a reduction in next year’s total State Homeland Security grants. The total allocation will drop from $861.3 million to $842 million.

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