Nevada returns unspent federal homeland security funds

CARSON CITY – The Nevada Department of Homeland Security is returning more than $100,000 in unspent federal funds from 2011 and 2012 because not all of the grant money could be put to use within the allowable time frame, the Homeland Security Commission was told Monday.

The agency is returning about $92,000 from the fiscal year 2011 grant cycle, and $20,000 from the 2012 cycle, said Rick Martin, who oversees the federal grants through the state Division of Emergency Management.

“Although it is less than 1 percent it is still a substantial amount,” he said.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, who serves as chairman of the commission, said that while the state would like to spend every penny, the returned funds in 2011 represent less than 1 percent of the total grant of $11.25 million.

“A lot of people would hope for that batting average,” he said.

The $20,000 that will be returned from 2012 represents well under 1 percent of the $4.7 million received in federal funds.

Spending in fiscal years 2013 of nearly $3.5 million and 2014 of about $4.7 million in federal grant funds is in progress.

Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie, a member of the commission, said the issue arises in part because the various state and local agencies overseeing the grants take great pains to make sure the funds are not overspent.

Projections for projects are made well ahead of time, and then when the money gets allocated, not all of it ends up being fully used in each project budget, he said.

Then there is a short time frame and restrictions on reallocating the remaining unspent funds on other programs, which sometimes results in not all of the money being used within the time available, Gillespie said.

Some of the funds unspent on original projects in 2011 were put to use in the shortened time frame, including the purchase of radios for the Mesquite Police Department, he said.

“It isn’t because we’re incompetent; actually its because people are very competent and pay close attention to it and people didn’t go over budget,” Gillespie said.

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801.

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