WASHINGTON — Maine will get less federal homeland security funding this year to distribute to local first responders.

Maine will receive $2.8 million in State Homeland Security Grant Program funding for 2012, down from $5.1 million last year, according to the office of Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the top Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

That’s money that can help buy new equipment or train fire and police departments how to respond better to disasters ranging from terrorist attacks to hazardous chemical spills.

The cut had been expected because federal homeland security funding for states has been reduced in recent years. Nationally, homeland security grant funding decreased to $1.3 billion this year, from $2.1 billion in 2011.

The State Homeland Security Grant Program is run by the Maine Emergency Management Agency, which keeps 20 percent of the money to cover administrative costs and shares the balance with county and local agencies. Its 2011 allocation of $5.1 million was a big decrease from $6.6 million in 2010.

Bruce Fitzgerald, the agency’s deputy director, said it now will focus on spending grant money to help communities maintain equipment and programs, rather than funding new purchases and initiatives.

The state will get a slight funding increase from the Emergency Management Performance Grants Program, $3.4 million this year from $3.3 million last year. That program sends money out to the state’s 16 county emergency management agencies and local agencies.

It’s possible, but not likely, that Maine could apply for more state homeland security and emergency management performance grant money, because the grant amounts for those totals are considered minimums and states are allowed to seek more money. However, last year, Maine didn’t receive any money above the minimum amounts for those programs.

The state and communities also can apply for other types of homeland security funding, including port and border security programs.

The city of Portland, for instance, got a $1 million grant for port security last year.

Maine has received more than $200 million overall in various federal homeland security grants since 2002, according to Collins.

Jonathan Riskind — 791-6280

[email protected]

Twitter: MaineTodayDC

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