Oxford County seal. Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham

PARIS — The proposed federal budget includes deep cuts to the federal Emergency Management Performance Grant Program and Homeland Security Grant Program, creating a potential $22,000 shortfall for the Oxford County Emergency Management Agency.

Director Allyson Hill said funding for the Emergency Management Performance Grant Program could be cut by as much as $379 million and the Homeland Security Grant by as much as $525 million.

Hill told Oxford County commissioners the federal government has reimbursed 50 percent of her department’s budget, covering  salaries, expenses and benefits.

Through the Emergency Management Performance Grant, the department this year requested reimbursement of $129,577 and was granted $107,145.

“Most likely, never again will there be a 50 percent reimbursement for our office,” Hill said. “It may only go down to 48% next year, but it may be 46% the year after that. It’s looking like this is the new normal, with no more 50% reimbursement.”

Hill said her department had three employees working in the office until March 29, and created several new programs due to the staff increase. Now, the department is down to two, and Hill said the workload has left the office staff feeling like it is “underwater.”

To maintain funding and in an attempt to avoid a shortfall, the department cannot fill the open position before October.

Hill said key to maintaining federal funding is to show the two employees are doing the work of three.

“If we don’t fill the position before October (which is what I suggested today), we may not have a shortfall this year in reimbursement,” Hill wrote in an email. “But with flat funding, we will not reach the 50% reimbursement level in future years. Hopefully, if there is a decline in reimbursement, it will be a slow transition.”

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