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N.D., cities seek help on homeland security

Making North Dakota more secure against terrorists will require additional federal aid, state and local officials say. That was the message they gave Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., during a Senate Budget Committee field hearing on homeland security Tu...

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Making North Dakota more secure against terrorists will require additional federal aid, state and local officials say.

That was the message they gave Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., during a Senate Budget Committee field hearing on homeland security Tuesday at the North Dakota State University Alumni Center. Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., also participated.

The state received nearly $20 million in federal aid for homeland security in fiscal year 2002, according to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.

That money helps, but more aid is needed, state and local officials told Conrad and Pomeroy.

"The reality is, we need some federal cash," said Doug Friez, state homeland security coordinator. "That's not to say we're taking a free ride."

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Connie Sprynczynatyk, executive director of the North Dakota League of Cities, said local governments aren't looking for a handout.

But cities already are paying for basic services, and they have little money left to spend on homeland security, she said.

"If the federal government is increasing the requirements (for homeland security), then we need more funding," she said.

The city of Fargo has spent an estimated $750,000 more on security issues since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Mayor Bruce Furness said in written testimony.

The expense includes new equipment, building improvements and additional airport security.

The city has a duty and responsibility to prepare for disasters, Furness wrote, but "any assistance provided by the federal government will be greatly appreciated."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jonathan Knutson at (701) 241-5530

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