MiamiÆs Johnson sees security savings
Bill Johnson, the acting director at the Port of Miami, said Monday he thinks the port can trim 'millions' from its security budget'without reducing the level of security at the port.
While the ports industry in general is seeking ever-greater levels of security spending, Johnson said he thinks the Port of Miami's in-house spending on security can be cut back. He was not speaking about state or federal grant money.
In an interview with American Shipper, Johnson said that since 9-11, the Port of Miami has increased its security spending from $4.1 million a year to $17 million for fiscal year 2006.
Johnson said that although he does not yet have hard numbers, he believes the port can make security budget cuts in the millions, remain in compliance with federal and state security standards, and maintain current levels of safety. He added he sees security as the number one issue at the port.
Johnson said he had met with port security officials about the cuts and was in the process of hiring a consultant to target specific security spending cuts.
He said he could not discuss details of the cuts, but said changes such as erecting new fencing in some locations could dramatically reduce security needs in those areas.
Johnson said he would like to see some of the security cuts used to add security personnel and equipment, but that the rest of the money could be used for port maintenance and improvement projects that have been delayed because of the port's increased security spending in recent years.
Johnson is a longtime Miami-Dade County employee who was most recently assistant county managers. He has been closely involved with oversight of major building projects in Miami, including the American Airlines Arena and a major new art center scheduled to open this fall.