Smaller government jurisdictions are less likely to be prepared for disaster than larger cities and counties. Among jurisdictions with fewer than 10,000 people, only 45.2% either have a disaster preparedness plan in place or are planning one. Among largest cities and counties, the percentage increases to 91.7%.

These are among the results of an online survey conducted by Government Security in conjunction with Local Government Update e-mail newsletter published by American City & County, a sister magazine.

Overall 79.5% of respondents say their disaster preparedness plan is either in place or being planned (see chart). Similarly, twice as many respondents from the smallest jurisdictions than those from the largest jurisdictions believe that local governments will have to pay more than 75% of the Homeland security costs (41.5% of smallest jurisdictions; 20.8% of largest).

The survey also found that respondents among emergency response and law enforcement respondents, already dealing with crises every day, are more likely than others to indicate that their jurisdiction has a terrorism plan in progress or in place (96.8%). A majority of them (51.6%) also believe that while local governments will pay less than half of the cost of Homeland security, local authorities should still have the final word on how Federal funds are spent (80.6%). Among respondents who are administration or elected officials, 72.5% report that their terrorism response plan is either in place or being planned, and most (60.0%) believe local governments will have to shoulder the majority of the cost of Homeland security. Further, only 67.5% of these respondents say that local governments should determine how federal funds are spent.

How will local governments pay for Homeland security? Some 35.8% of the administration or elected officials who responded say they intend to raise property taxes, while 29.1% of public works/water/wastewater respondents say that utility rates will be raised. Respondents from jurisdictions over 250,000 people are most likely to say they will use current funds/general revenue to pay Homeland security costs; many respondents indicate that spending will have to be re-prioritized.

Finally, our survey reveals the following trends related to the types of equipment communities will likely purchase to complete their Homeland security goals:

  • As population of the jurisdiction increases, so does the likelihood that identification technology will be purchased. (In small cities, maybe everyone already knows each other!)

  • Access control and surveillance devices are the most frequently planned purchases by public works/water/wastewater respondents.

  • Communications equipment ranks highest for administration or elected office respondents and emergency response or law enforcement respondents.

  • The top three for other respondents are communications, access control devices, and information technology.

The survey is based on 338 responses to an online poll of subscribers to Local Government Update e-mail newsletter.