2004 Adopted Resolutions
72nd Annual Meeting
Boston

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FEDERAL HOMELAND SECURITY FUNDING FOR FIRST RESPONDERS

     WHEREAS, America’s mayors are 100 percent committed to the homeland war against terrorism; and

     WHEREAS, cities throughout the nation have already dedicated unprecedented, and mostly unbudgeted, resources to the new war on terrorism as detailed in surveys released by the Conference of Mayors; and

     WHEREAS, over $7 billion in new funding has been appropriated by Congress for Fiscal Years 2003 and 2004 for first responder assistance; and

     WHEREAS, despite a major lobbying effort by the nation’s mayors - in partnership with local first responders including police chiefs, fire chiefs, police officers and fire officers – the majority of this funding has been sent through the states; and

     WHEREAS, two 50 state surveys conducted by the Conference of Mayors Homeland Security Monitoring Center in September of 2003 and January of 2004 found that a majority of cities had not yet received funding from the largest federal first responder program; many states had chosen to send funding to regional or county governments; and problems exist regarding the involvement of cities in state planning processes; and

     WHEREAS, because each state can establish its own funding distribution plan, local governments do not have a predictable source of funding that can be integrated into local homeland security plans; and

     WHEREAS, there has not been established a detailed, transparent monitoring system to track the federal funding through the states to local governments and first responders; and

     WHEREAS, President Bush acknowledged that a logjam existed in the states on this funding during the Conference of Mayors’ 72nd Winter Meeting in January of 2004, and pledged to help “unstick” the funds; and

     WHEREAS, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Tom Ridge immediately responded to the President’s statements by forming a special Task Force on State and Local Homeland Security Funding, with the Conference of Mayors top three officers and Criminal and Social Justice Committee Chair serving as members; and

WHEREAS, that DHS Task Force has been working to refine the existing funding system through the states to ensure that funding reaches local first responders quickly and efficiently; and 

     WHEREAS, the DHS Task Force has identified a number of structural problems that have accounted for funding difficulties including, but not limited to, the reimbursement nature of the program and the multiple layers of governmental involvement in funding distribution; and

     WHEREAS, the Task Force did not address the issue of direct funding; and

WHEREAS, the Administrations FY 2005 budget includes a request for $3.2 billion in additional first responders assistance, and with the exception of the $500 million requested for fire grants, the remaining funding would continue to flow through the states; and

     WHEREAS, reauthorization bills currently moving forward in the United States Senate and House of Representatives would significantly alter the nature of the first responder program, including a provision in the Senate bill to provide high threat funding directly to local governments without a state passthrough,

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The United States Conference of Mayors calls on the Congress to pass, and the President to sign, legislation creating a new formula-based first responder funding program with direct local assistance and maximum flexibility to cover costs such as equipment, communications interoperability, training, exercises, planning, critical infrastructure protection, and overtime related to homeland security; and

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Congress should approve retroactive changes to ensure that the more than $7 billion in the pipeline, as well as future appropriations, can be quickly and efficiently accessed by local governments and first responders including eliminating the reimbursement nature of the first responder program and providing pass-through deadlines for when funding is sent by the states to counties or regional governments.