Attack effects cost county

Additional overtime for security, scares totals $2.8 million

New equipment requested

State may provide funding for police, fire departments

Howard County

November 02, 2001|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

From duct tape to overtime, Howard County's first effort to calculate its extra security costs caused by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks totals $2.8 million.

County Executive James N. Robey was among state leaders who met with Gov. Parris N. Glendening in Reisterstown yesterday to ask for help to fill financial holes and provide for equipment rejected in the past.

"Right now, in everyone's mind, you think the worst," said county spokeswoman Victoria Goodman, who said much of the equipment the fire department wants has been requested for years, but rejected because a biological attack was considered a remote possibility. "Now you have to wonder, are there any more pressing needs?" she said.

The county compiled the estimate, which covers police and fire requests, over a frantic 24-hour period at the request of the Maryland Association of Counties.

While county police stuck mainly to overtime expenses for such things as providing security for mosques and synagogues and operating the county's emergency center to respond to the now common "white substance" calls, the fire department added a list of equipment needed for an attack.

Raymond S. Wacks, the county budget director, said the county has not spent all the overtime money allocated in the budget, but added, "I don't know how much overtime we'll need for this winter." And the county is running through budgeted overtime funds faster than in previous years, he said.

Police Chief Wayne Livesay requested $756,000, nearly a third of which is to cover overtime for the "white powder mail team." These are extra officers expected to be needed until June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Fire Chief Joseph Herr had a list more than twice that size, including a new $200,000 biohazard strike team truck, and $511,000 worth of rescue equipment.

Requests from the departments range from mundane items, such as duct tape, plastic bags and rubber boots, to $45,000 in radiological monitoring equipment and $17,500 for more emergency medicines to treat potential victims.

Herr asked for $120,000 for more specialized training for a range of county employees who may encounter unusual situations.

"What I think it represents are things outside of normal activities," Wacks said.

Fearing the recession's impact on county revenues this year, Robey has ordered his department heads to conserve from 5 to 10 percent of their budgets to guard against shortfalls as the budget year moves to a conclusion next spring.

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