State agencies adding up the costs of preparing for terrorism

Nevada officials are figuring out this week just how much the threat of terrorism has cost airports, police, utilities and government and state agencies, the state's homeland security adviser said Tuesday.

In anticipation of President Bush's request to obtain federal money to pay for preparation and extra security, Nevada officials began pulling together the real costs of terrorism preparations.

President Bush asked Congress Tuesday for $74.7 billion to pay for the war with Iraq. Some lawmakers are already expecting that amount to grow when local governments ask for money for local emergency workers and perhaps to aid financially troubled airlines.

The request is expected to include $4.2 billion for homeland security. State officials are planning to ask for money from the fund, if it becomes available.

Reno/Tahoe International Airport will seek reimbursement for costs incurred to keep up with increased federal security measures, said airport spokesman Adam Mayberry. Officials estimate the airport has spent close to $1 million to comply with federal mandates.

The cost to pay for expansion of the airport as a result of additional baggage checks instituted in December may add $11 million.

"There have been a lot of federal mandates being forced upon us," Mayberry said.

Officials estimate they have spent $300,000 on providing passenger assistance in the ticket lobby after the installation of baggage-scanning machines in December. An outside canopy was also built for $1.7 million.

Airport officials plan to expand the ticketing lobby to accommodate the new machines. The estimated cost of the expansion is $10 million, Mayberry said.

The airport's $25 million operating budget is funded mostly through user fees, like airline landing fees, lease fees, food and beverage sales, retail and rental cars. Reno passengers also pay a $4.50 ticket fee that goes to the airport. They expect to apply for federal grants to pay for airport expansion, Mayberry said.

Nevada Homeland Security adviser Jerry Bussell said he has asked local and state agencies, power companies and other entities for an estimate of how much it costs to prepare for a higher threat level.

"We're trying to put together a real number," Bussell said.

Bussell will forward the estimates on to Gov. Kenny Guinn for possible future reimbursement.

The Nevada Division of Emergency Management and the state Division of Homeland Security have not increased emergency procedures or opened emergency operation centers since the start of the war.

Bussell said the state has had no reason to believe there is imminent danger, but several issues are being watched. Guinn would decide if the state should raise its threat level to red, the highest level of terrorism alert, Bussell said.

"We are not going to go to red unless there is a specific or defined threat to somebody or something in Nevada," he said. "When you go to red, a great deal of things change. It would change the way we do business in Nevada."

The extra costs to raise the threat level would include activating National Guard units for specific duties, for instance, Bussell said.

Deputy Chief Kamala Carmazzi of the state Emergency Management Division said the state has been quiet since the start of war. She is not aware of any problems or threats.

Division staff met Tuesday to discuss disbursement to local governments of $6.77 million in federal funds received through a grant. The money will mostly pay for purchasing emergency equipment and developing a statewide emergency training and exercise program in the next fiscal year, Carmazzi said.


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