Cities Projected to Spend Nearly $70 Million Per Week on Homeland Security Costs

A new survey finds mounting security costs as cities await direct federal aid.

by / March 28, 2003
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Cities nationwide are likely spending about $70 million per week on additional homeland security measures due to the war in Iraq and national high state of threat alert, according to a new 145-city survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

The 145 cities participating in the survey are geographically and politically diverse, ranging in size from 30,000 to eight million people. They are spending more than $21.4 million per week on additional homeland security efforts because of the war and national "orange" threat alert level, the USCM said.

The USCM's methodology projects a figure of nearly $70 million for the 1,185 cities nationwide with population of more than 30,000 based on the data received from this sample pool of cities.

At that rate, a six- month period of war and/or high alert status would cost cities nearly $2 billion, according to the USCM. The costs reflected in the survey come on top of existing homeland security spending already underway or planned since Sept. 11. The survey asked cities about direct costs -- new money that had to be allocated for homeland security because of the war or threat alert level, and the figures do not account for the huge indirect costs cities are experiencing, the USCM said.

When a police officer normally assigned to anti-gang work is reassigned to guard a public building that is an indirect but very real cost for a city and its residents. The figures also exclude major equipment purchases or other security needs that are not directly related to the current state of alert and homeland preparedness given the war.

A prior survey found cities expected to spend more than $2.6 billion on homeland security between September 11, 2001 and the end of 2002.

"Mayors need direct homeland security funding and we needed it more than 18 months ago," said Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, who chairs the Mayors' Homeland Security Task Force. "Our domestic troops -- police, fire, and emergency medical personnel -- must be well funded just as our troops in Iraq must be."

Cities have received little direct federal assistance for homeland security since the attack on September 11, the USCM said. This week, President Bush proposed an additional $1.4 billion in aid for local governments, recommending that all but $50 million of that funding be channeled first through state bureaucracies.

"Cities continue to bear tremendous and growing costs to ensure security and protect their residents and businesses in these tough times," said Boston Mayor and Conference President Thomas Menino. "Cities urgently need direct, flexible financial assistance to meet their homeland security needs"