Gov. Mike Dunleavy has eliminated funding for local emergency planners around Alaska.
A line item veto deleted $225,000 to be distributed among 21 Local Emergency Planning Committees: local officials and volunteers who plan for disasters and train others in an emergency.
“It’s not a tremendous amount of money,” said Juneau’s emergency programs manager Tom Mattice. “But it is the seed money that brings us together to coordinate and organize in a multi-agency fashion to ensure that we’re all on the same page on the day of a big event.”
Without the $15,500 in state funding, Juneau’s biannual safety and preparedness expo will be canceled this fall.
In rural areas, LEPC members say the lost funding is an even bigger deal.
In the city of Craig, Southern Southeast LEPC Chairman Brian Templin says the funding was used to train volunteers across Prince of Wales Island.
“For a lot of the rural communities, the LEPC money is the only emergency management or emergency planning money that the community or the region receives,” said Templin, who also works as Craig’s city planner. “So it definitely will have an impact around the state.”
A spokesman for the state’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management didn’t respond to requests for comment on Monday or Tuesday.
But in filings with the legislature, the governor’s budget office wrote that the state’s fiscal reality demands cuts across agencies.
“Communities can apply for grants through other sources including Department of Commerce Community and Economic Development and the Federal government,” it said.
The veto doesn’t erase individual LEPC’s state and federal mandates. That includes logging the location and quantity of hazardous materials in a community in case of a spill or other calamity.
“So this is not going to go away,” Mattice said. “We have to do the work. It is a statutory obligation and now unfortunately — it’s simply unfunded.”
The legislature has until Friday to override the governor’s vetoes.