Phoenix spared anti-terrorism funds cut - East Valley Tribune: Phoenix & The Valley Of The Sun

Phoenix spared anti-terrorism funds cut

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Posted: Friday, January 5, 2007 10:16 am | Updated: 5:33 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

WASHINGTON - Phoenix was spared cuts from federal antiterrorism grant money while Tucson was added to the list of urban areas considered at serious risk of attacks and eligible to share $747 million.

The eligible new cities on the list obtained Thursday by The Associated Press shows El Paso, Texas; Norfolk, Va.; and Providence, R.I.

The cities that were cut from the list of 45 metropolitan areas are Toledo, Ohio; Baton Rouge, La.; Louisville, Ky.; and Omaha, Neb.

The Homeland Security Department has come under intense scrutiny for its decisions in the Urban Area Security Initiative which is the only pool of federal money designed to go to localities based solely on their risk of terrorist attacks.

Officials in New York and several other major cities were furious last year when the agency announced major cuts to their funding while sending millions of dollars to places like Omaha and Louisville, which are generally considered to face less risk of terrorism.

The agency may officially announce the decision as early as today, though the designations do not yet come with fixed dollar amounts.

Those are expected later this year, most likely in May, after the government has reviewed the cities’ grant applications.

Under the program, Homeland Security awards money not just to an individual city, but to the entire metropolitan area.

This year, Homeland Security chose to lump together New York City and northern New Jersey into a single area.

Last year, the agency kept them separate, giving money directly to Jersey City and Newark.

While the agency did cut four cities from the list, it spared several others that were warned in 2006 that they might be cut off. Other spared cities were Las Vegas, Buffalo, N.Y., Oklahoma City; Tampa, Fla.; San Diego; and Sacramento, Calif.

The list also does not include a smaller, separate pot of grant money to protect urban infrastructure, like public transit systems. An announcement on that money is expected next week.

The actual payments vary widely from place to place, and even year to year.

In the 2005 budget year, for example, Los Angeles received $65 million, while Jacksonville, Fla. got $6.9 million.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks cities like New York and Washington have received the lion’s share of the money, but city officials protested furiously last May when funding for each was cut by 40 percent.

The program was launched after the terrorist attacks and has since been the focus of yearly wrangling between the Bush administration and some in Congress who want a larger share of federal largesse to be distributed based solely on risk.

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