- The Washington Times - Monday, January 10, 2005

Providing police officers to close streets, direct traffic and staff checkpoints for next week’s presidential inauguration will cost the District $17 million, almost three times what the city spent in 2001 — and local officials want the federal government to pick up more of the tab.

City officials scrambled yesterday to negotiate an agreement with the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for a supplemental appropriation of $12 million.

An OMB spokesman said the District doesn’t necessarily need the appropriation because it can use grants from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). “There are significant resources already available to help the District with costs associated with increased security,” OMB spokesman Chad Kolton said.

But the city does not want to use money it says was set aside to allow the region to respond to unforeseen events.

“We don’t want to use this money. … If we use [it], then we don’t have it for what it was originally intended for,” said Sharon Gang, spokeswoman for D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams.

The District will pay $5 million out of its annual Emergency Planning and Security Cost Fund (EPSF), but city officials said they want to save the remaining $10 million in the fund for security costs the city anticipates through the rest of the year.

“We have to maintain a balance in that account to cover various events that are going to transpire through the end of this year, including other demonstrations, other protests, the Fourth of July, etc.,” said Gregory McCarthy, Mr. Williams’ deputy chief of staff.

If the White House denies the city a $12 million supplemental grant, the District will use money from its Urban Area Security Initiative grant fund, which is administered through the DHS and is intended for security needs in the region when unforeseen events occur.

Ms. Gang said the DHS has approved the use of that fund. Brian Roehrkasse, DHS spokesman, said the city was given approval to use those funds some time ago.

Security costs have tripled since 2001, when the District spent about $6 million on the inauguration. Mr. Williams noted this in a letter he sent to DHS Secretary Tom Ridge and OMB Director Joshua B. Bolton on Dec. 27.

“The cost of providing security has risen dramatically for this first inauguration since September 11, 2001, and the District cannot rely on the EPSF alone to fund our inaugural costs without draining the account of any resources to support typical events throughout the year,” Mr. Williams wrote.

The city has yet to hear a formal response from either DHS or OMB. The mayor was traveling back to the District from Arizona yesterday and could not be reached for comment, Ms. Gang said.

Security costs, which Mr. McCarthy acknowledged are not all “what you would consider public security items,” include $6 million for D.C. and regional police overtime, $5 million for nationwide police support and overtime, $2.7 million for reviewing stands on Pennsylvania Avenue, $250,000 for the mayor’s reviewing stand, and $141,875 for boxed lunches.

Local officials were upset about the city’s situation.

“This is an unfunded mandate of the worst sort. How can you ask the District to take funds from important homeland security projects to pay for this instead?” David Marin, spokesman for Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, Virginia Republican, told the Associated Press.

Mr. Davis thinks that “at the end of the day, OMB will see the light and realize that the District needs supplemental money to pay for this,” Mr. Marin said.

However, Mr. Kolton of the OMB said, “Because the event is [a national special security event], the federal government is already bringing to bear a number of its own resources, personnel and assets to support the necessary security.”

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