Sean Miller, director of the Delaware County Emergency Management Agency, is talking to county commissioners, village and township officials about needed changes in the funding structure due to funding cuts.
“This past year we had an approximate three-percent reduction in the Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG),” Miller said. “There is talk of a potential 20-percent reduction in the future that has not been finalized as of yet.”
Miller said in the last few years the federal grants are $350 million nationwide and then divided among the individual states. He said his budget is approximately $260,000 annually. The grant award for 2016 was $100,587.
“States utilize it as well as the locals,” Miller said. “It’s really very vital to emergency management at the state and local level.”
The current agreement the EMA uses was established in 1989.
“It establishes how emergency management is founded in Delaware County and what the local funding mechanism is,” Miller said. “That local funding mechanism historically has been 40 cents per person for the townships, cities, and villages per year. The county board of commissioners has paid 20 cents per capita for our entire jurisdiction. When you add it together it’s 60 cents per person for Delaware County.”
Miller said, according to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 60 cents in 1989 would be the equivalent of a $1.18 in 2017. He said with increased cost of business coupled with the reductions in the grant, plus the growing needs of the county, the EMA is trying to be proactive and look at the long term.
Miller said it’s not an emergency now, but the county EMA is looking at ways to keep it from becoming one.
“Our board is very collaborative because we have first responders on our board as well as elected officials,” Miller said. “Our board has approved the language, but for this change to go into effect it would require a majority vote of the participating subdivisions.”
Miller said as of right now everything for next year is “up in the air” because there is no way to know what the grant amount will be next year. He said if the model is approved his estimates the subdivisions would pay 57 cents per person and the county would pay 28 cents per person.
“When we looked at the long-term planning for the office. … A lot of the board members identified our funding model as a potential risk to the office.”
Miller said the new funding model would move from the static 60 cents per person per year to a percentage amount divided between the commissioners and the townships. He said the division would be the commissioners would pay one-third and the other jurisdictions in the county would pay the remaining two thirds.
Miller said each year the EMA director would determine the budget, present it to the executive board for approval. If approved the budget would go to the county commissioners for approval.
“Once those two steps occurred the invoices would go out to the jurisdictions,” he said. “There are those two checks and balances in place.”
Miller said the executive board understands that the local jurisdictions have also undergone cuts in state and federal funding.
“We’ve tried to make it as equitable, realistic and sustainable as possible but still being able to provide for the long-term outlook and sustainability for our office,” he said.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.