Area town demanding Homeland Security funds from the state

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:54

    BYRAM-Byram Township says it and Sussex County as a whole are not getting the emergency management assistance funds to which they are entitled and it wants the state of New Jersey to pay up. Following the events of Sept. 11, 2002, the federal and state government established a domestic preparedness equipment grant program in order to equip counties and municipalities in the event of future terrorist attacks. Each area was evaluated for its percent of critical infrastructure such as nuclear power plants, water reservoirs, attractions, governmental buildings, and assigned a piece of the pie. Sussex County was found to contain 1.25 percent of the state's critical infrastructure risk. That meant the county should have received approximately $286,000.00 in state funding over the past three years. Yet the county has received less than $60,000.00 and Sussex County Director of Emergency Management, Skip Danielson, who is also the mayor of Byram, said it is time for Trenton to pay up. "There should be a criteria-based distribution of funds," said Danielson. "We send it down there, we should get back something." The grant program was specifically intended to help municipalities purchase first-responder equipment such as radios, gas masks, protective gear and bomb-sniffing dogs. The federal government has a similar program and Sussex County has received its share but the state has not kicked in. "The definition of critical infrastructure is the same," said Danielson. "We are on the low end but you can't ignore the fact that we have some first responders out there who are not getting a thing." The council this week passed a resolution requesting that the state use the same risk analysis as the federal when funding all future homeland security grants. "I don't know if Bryam is entitled to any funds," said Danielson. "But based on the risk assessment at least one of the years out of three, Byram should have picked up funds." While Byram does contain some low level critical infrastructure risks, the majority of the potential terrorist targets are elsewhere in the county. Just where they are located is not something Danielson declined to specify. "I don't want to talk about specifics in any community. We don't want to give out the vulnerabilities," said Danielson. "Do we have a major Tier 1 infrastructure in Byram? No. But there are some in Sussex County." The council is hoping other county municipalities will follow its lead and issue resolutions of their own to lend further weight to the effort. To that end a copy of the resolution will be forwarded to the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders and all of Sussex County municipalities in addition to various state officials.