OC, Worcester Secure $800K In Homeland Security Grants

BERLIN – Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley announced last week roughly $26.7 million in federal Homeland Security grants were heading to the state, of which around 85 percent would be passed through to local governments including just shy of $800,000 combined for Ocean City and Worcester County.

Maryland’s share of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grants for state and local governments this year comes in at around $26.7 million. The state is mandated to pass a minimum of 80 percent of the federal funding on to local jurisdictions, but O’Malley announced last week he was forwarding 85 percent of the grant money to the counties and select towns including Ocean City.

“Even in difficult economic times, providing safety and security for the people of Maryland remains one of the government’s primary functions,” said O’Malley. “The demands on our public safety community do no decline when available resources are limited. In spite of a reduction in federal funding, we remain committed to providing the resources necessary for the brave men and women who serve as first responders.”

The funds are being passed through to every county in the state as well as Ocean City, Baltimore City and Annapolis. Funding amounts were determined by creating a baseline amount to each jurisdiction with the balance of the funds allocated using a formula calculating the risk level for each jurisdiction. Based on the formula, Ocean City is set to receive $400,531, while Worcester County will get $397,786.

The formula was developed by the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is coordination with emergency management and law enforcement personnel from local jurisdictions. MEMA Director Richard Muth said the state opted to go beyond the mandated 80 percent and forward 85 percent of the funding to the counties and select towns because of the ongoing economic crisis.

“We understand that many local jurisdictions in Maryland are facing severe budget conditions, which is why we continue to pass through more homeland security money to local governments than federal law mandates,” he said.

Of the total $27.6 million in federal funding the state will receive, about $15 million will be filtered out to the local counties and cities. Despite the apparent windfall for the local jurisdictions, each will receive an average of around 11 percent less than they did last year, a figure which mirrors the overall reduction in funding to the state.

The lion’s share of the funding will go to Baltimore City at $2.4 million, with another $1.2 million each going to Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George’s County. Garrett County is the local jurisdiction in Maryland receiving the least amount of the funding at just over $180,000.

Although no specifics have been announced on how the federal homeland security funding will be spent here in Ocean City and Worcester, the funds will be put to good use, according to Ocean City Emergency Services Director Joe Theobald.

“We are very fortunate to get that funding,” he said. “Although we haven’t earmarked any of the money yet, it will be utilized in a variety of ways. Some will go toward the police department, some will go to the fire department and some more will likely go to the fire marshal’s office.”

Theobald said the timing of the federal pass-through grants couldn’t have been much better considering the current economic situation.

“It will allow us to offset some of our expenditures,” he said. “We’ve done a lot to enhance the security and safety of the town, and $400,000 can go a long way in contributing to that.”