American Press, Lake Charles, on more budget cuts now take aim at emergency planning offices:

July 15

American Press, Lake Charles, on more budget cuts now take aim at emergency planning offices:

A cut in federal funding by the state of Louisiana for emergency planning offices has angered local officials.

Last month, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration announced it was taking a bigger slice of a $5.4 million federal grant used to help fund local Office of Emergency Preparedness operations.

The state allocated $3.4 million of the grant last year for local offices. The Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, aka GOHSEP, kept the remaining $2 million.

The Jindal administration announced last month it would direct $3.5 million of the federal funds to GOHSEP, leaving $1.9 million for the 64 OEP offices around the state.

Consequently, Calcasieu Parish's Office of Emergency Preparedness will take a $53,630, or 53 percent, cut in the federal funds and emergency preparedness offices in Southwest Louisiana will have to absorb cuts of at least 30 percent.

Allen Parish's OEP federal funding will fall from $36,000 to $23,000, Beauregard Parish from $40,000 to $24,000, Jeff Davis Parish from $38,000 to $24,000 and Cameron Parish from $29,000 to $20,000.

"It's a plain old power grab by the state," said Calcasieu Parish OEP director Dick Gremillion. ...

Retired Lt. Col. Jerry Sneed, deputy mayor for public safety in New Orleans, said it is the local emergency preparedness offices that "fight the battle," adding that GOHSEP is strictly in a support role.

West Feliciana Parish OEP Director Tommy Boyett said the funding loss "cuts the heart" out of OEP services.

These cuts appear to be myopic, which is certainly becoming one of Gov. Jindal's legacies.


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