Officials in San Bernardino, which has been struggling to recover from bankruptcy over the last three years, are hopeful that added costs from its response to the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11 will not further erode the city's delicate finances.
The city has incurred up to $1 million in unforeseen expenses — from the added cost of deploying police officers on extended shifts to responding to ultimately unfounded reports of new threats.
City officials are now seeking help paying those costs and others that might arise from the shooting.
Fourteen people were killed and 21 were wounded Dec. 2 when Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, burst into a county holiday gathering at the Inland Regional Center and began shooting.
On Tuesday, the San Bernardino City Council will consider ratifying a local emergency proclamation, which officials hope will help open the doors for state and federal funds that would reimburse the city for costs associated with the attack.
San Bernardino has been severely depleted in recent years — its Police Department has been significantly downsized, it moved to outsource its Fire Department and trash collection services to save money and things such as street repairs have fallen far behind.
The bulk of additional costs associated with the attack, at least $600,000, has been incurred by the Police Department, City Manager Allen Parker said.
For several days after the attack, officers worked 12-hour shifts. Police have also been responsible for parts of the widespread investigation — though it is now led by the FBI — and for beefing up security in its aftermath, city spokeswoman Monica Lagos said.
The city also incurred at least $200,000 in costs related to the deployment of its Fire Department and other employees after the attack.
Firefighters, for example, provided support for the FBI's search of a downtown lake and public works employees were asked to work extra hours, Lagos said.
San Bernardino has about $125 million a year in revenue in its general fund budget, so added expenses of $800,000 to $1 million aren't overwhelming, Parker said.
"Obviously, we should be able to come up with it," he said, "though it still represents a pretty sizable hit for us."
The city manager said he is still trying to get a sense of what funds might be available.
"You don't go through these events very often so you don't know how they play out," Parker said.
The city's declaration calls on Gov. Jerry Brown to also issue a state of emergency. That, followed by a presidential declaration, would open the door for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to step in with assistance from its Disaster Relief Fund, FEMA spokeswoman Mary Simms said.
However, the governor's office is still evaluating the situation in San Bernardino to see if a state of emergency is needed, said Kelly Huston, deputy director of the Governor's Office of Emergency Services.
The state needs to "have a clear picture of the extraordinary costs" and better understand which needs are beyond the ability of local governments to bear, Huston said.
Another option may be to deploy State Homeland Security Program funds, which states seek from FEMA, to reimburse expenses such as overtime staffing for police and fire and other added costs, Simms said. This would not require state of emergency declarations from the governor and president.
Huston, of the Governor's Office of Emergency Services, said those funds are generally "for specific projects and usually not [for] response costs after the fact."
"But," she added, "we'll evaluate everything to see what could be brought to the table."
San Bernardino isn't the only locality coping with added costs incurred as a result of the shooting. The Board of Supervisors in San Bernardino County and the City Council in Redlands are similarly set to vote on whether to ratify emergency declarations related to the attack this week.
The county is still trying to determine costs associated with the shooting, said spokesman David Wert.
"It hasn't been something that has strapped the county to the point where the county is feeling anything financially," he said.
"However, it is proper to, at the end of the day … make sure the proper funding is coming from the proper sources."
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