New York's Mayor seeks new security spending approach, $900 million from White House

Wednesday, March 19th 2003, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg asked President Bush and Homeland Defense Secretary Tom Ridge to overhaul their security spending formula, arguing the city has gotten only a small fraction of the $900 million it needs.

Bloomberg argued at an Oval Office meeting that New York has special needs that aren't reflected in the current federal approach of doling out money based on population.

The mayor did not say exactly what he was seeking, but New York lawmakers who attended a meeting with him afterward said the $900 million proposal was contained within a thick briefing book outlining the city's current and future security programs.

The total would include roughly $200 million for counter-terrorism and public safety efforts, $100 million for specialized training for emergency personnel, and $187 million for repairs and security enhancements around the city, said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The proposal also seeks $189 million to buy additional equipment, and $223 million to upgrade the city's communications and information technology.

City officials recently launched Operation Atlas, a $5 million a week counter-terrorism effort as the nation heads toward war with Iraq.

But more than any specific dollar figure, city officials want to see federal security spending reflect a greater threat to New York.

Bloomberg said the meeting had been productive, even though "no figures, no final determinations have been made."

Ridge called Operation Atlas "a model for other communities to follow," and said an expected war spending bill would also include money for homeland defense, though he did not say how much.

"There is no city in this country that does a better job working across the board to prevent terrorism than the city of New York," Ridge said.

Bloomberg said New York is ready to train personnel from other areas in anti-terror techniques.

"There is a two-front war here. One is on the streets of our cities, and one is overseas," Bloomberg said.

The mayor, who had largely shied away from the debate over whether and when to go to war against Iraq, voiced support for Bush.

"The debate is over," said Bloomberg. "All New Yorkers are behind the President."

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