Commission Chair Disappointed in Loss of Funding
County Commission Chair Steve Sisolak today expressed his disappointment with a U.S. Department of Homeland Security decision not to provide funding for Las Vegas-area counter-terrorism measures.
“It’s disappointing but we’re working with Sen. Harry Reid, Congresswoman Dina Titus and Sheriff Douglas Gillespie to rectify the situation,” Sisolak said.
The announcement from Homeland Security continues a trend in recent years of declining funding for Las Vegas. The department lowered the Las Vegas urban area’s “relative risk profile” from number 30 to 33. The top 25 communities were funded. In 2004, the area received $10.4 million, but the funding has dropped every year since with only $1.8 million going to Las Vegas last year.
“I think there’s no question that Clark County is just as worthy – in some cases, MORE worthy – of this funding as some of the other communities on this list,” Sisolak said. “I think our arguments for continued Homeland Security funding are strong. While we lost out on this round of funding, I’m very hopeful that our Congressional delegation and the Administration itself will rectify this oversight. That would be the right course of action for everyone. I would simply urge our citizens to let their congressional representatives know how important this is to our community.”
“Las Vegas is as safe as any city in the country,” Sisolak said. “But we need to stay on top of our game. We must continue to invest in those things that will continue to keep our 2 million residents and 40 million annual visitors as safe as possible. While our funding has dropped to nothing, threats remain. I think everyone agrees on that point. What we witnessed at the Boston Marathon is a tragic reminder of that fact.”
Funding provided by Washington over the years has played a pivotal role in that. For instance:
- Metro’s counter-terrorism center;
- Metro’s Armor Team for chemical-nuclear-biological response;
- Metro’s Silver Shield program for protecting critical infrastructure like utilities, schools and the resorts;
- A public health preparedness program to guard against and detect pandemics and biological attacks;
- Emergency preparedness exercises and tests; and
- Communications equipment for first-responders.
Las Vegas has 40 million visitors annually and 250,000-300,000 visitors on any given day. The Las Vegas Strip is recognized internationally for its first-class tourism with 15 of 20 of the world’s largest hotels and 150,000 hotel rooms. In addition to our tourism industry, government/military, retail, technology, manufacturing, medical and energy sectors are key economic sectors that must be protected, Sisolak said.
Some 92 percent of the state’s critical infrastructure and key resources are located in Clark County. In addition to all of the privately owned critical infrastructure assets, we are surrounded by a number of federal facilities that are critical to military and counterterrorism efforts. Nellis and Creech Air Force bases and Hoover Dam come to mind. Many federal facilities lie adjacent to remote-rural communities within Clark County that are protected by volunteer and/or short-staffed police and firefighting and EMS support.
Clark County is a dynamic and innovative organization dedicated to providing top-quality service with integrity, respect and accountability. With jurisdiction over the world-famous Las Vegas Strip and covering an area the size of New Jersey, Clark is the nation’s 12th-largest county and provides extensive regional services to more than 2 million citizens and 43 million visitors a year. Included are the nation’s 8th-busiest airport, air quality compliance, social services and the state’s largest public hospital, University Medical Center. The County also provides municipal services that are traditionally provided by cities to almost 900,000 residents in the unincorporated area. Those include fire protection, roads and other public works, parks and recreation, and planning and development.