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EMPG uncertainty forces Duckworth to increase budget request

Published: Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 10:38 a.m. CST

Jo Duckworth, emergency management coordinator in Union County, alerted the Union County Board of Supervisors last week she would be asking for more money in her budget request this fiscal year.

How much more? About $20,000.

Duckworth explained the reason for the increased budget request is because normally she receives a Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG) issued by the federal government. Duckworth said she uses that $20,000 EMPG grant in her annual operating budget. However, this year, it’s unknown whether Congress will issue that grant.

“That grant accounts for about one-fifth of my operating budget,” Duckworth said, “So, it’s a pretty important grant. I use that money for local planning, trainings and exercises. We’ve got this grant for more than a decade, but it’s very much up in the air this year if we’ll get it. It’s all up to Congress.”

Duckworth said the government has sequestered all federal grants, including the EMPG grant, and will decide whether to issue this particular grant later this year.

Positive outlook

In an email Thursday, U.S. Congressman Tom Latham said he expects the EMPG program will be fully funded later this year and Union County will receive its grant money.

“As the tragic weather of last April reminds us, Iowa communities are in a region of the country that is susceptible to extreme weather and the potential damage that accompanies it,” Latham said. “Emergency Management Performance Grants allow states to directly help their localities prepare for such disasters, and I strongly share in the bipartisan support for the EMPG program in Congress.”

Duckworth said, if Congress decides to award the EMPG grant, a county budget amendment will be completed once the funds are distributed and the EMPG funds would be placed back into the county’s general basic fund.

However, if the grant isn’t received, county tax money would have to be used to fund the extra $20,000 in Duckworth’s operating budget.

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