Letter
July 2, 2015

FEMA’s recent rejection of some reimbursements doesn’t directly affect Killington

State to submitting final case to FEMA on Killington’s behalf in July

Dear Editor,

Last weeks’ news about FEMA rejecting the state’s appeal to fund the cost of box culverts for other towns raised questions about our own town’s outstanding claims to FEMA. I wanted to write to share where the town of Killington stands with its final Irene claims and what we’ve learned about this recent development mentioned in the news.

The town has received reimbursement for its Irene recovery projects except for bridges constructed on Stage and Ravine Roads and a portion of work on East Mountain Road. The final claims for these projects are being submitted to FEMA on the town’s behalf by the Vermont Department of Emergency Services, who is our link to FEMA.

The reason these final claims have not been submitted is that the state has been helping us make the case that we should receive more reimbursement than FEMA had planned. The state will be submitting our final case to FEMA in July.

To date, FEMA only wanted to pay the town for the federal share of what it would have cost to build culverts on Stage and Ravine Roads. FEMA did not want to pay for the bridges we were required to build by the federal and state governments.

While our argument for reimbursing the cost of building bridges is certainly valid, it’s not clear on how it will fare with FEMA, so we have also pointed out that even if FEMA doesn’t accept our full claim for the cost of reimbursement for the bridges, they should at least increase the amount they have planned to reimburse us for the replacement of the culverts. The reason being a lot of the infrastructure that was required for the bridges would have also been required for the culverts. As of now FEMA has not included that consideration in their initial reimbursement calculation.

Based on this, the 2015-16 town budget planned for FEMA and the state to pay us $223,778.  That revenue projection represents a conservative estimate of the federal and state shares of the costs for the town to replace the two culverts that existed before the storm not the bridges.

We expect to get reimbursed for the cost of replacing the culverts. We strongly believe we should be able to recover the full federal and state shares of the cost of building the bridges since the federal and state governments required we build them. How this all sugars out is not clear yet.  What we do know, is that had we not gone this route, and taken the extra time, we definitely would not have gotten full or partial reimbursement for what we spent to build the bridges we were required to build.

In an article published last week, Vermont Department of Emergency Services said they don’t see the recent FEMA decision having a significant bearing on our claim. Joe Flynn, director at the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security for the State of Vermont, said, “while Killington awaits FEMA’s final determination of its project applications there are no specific indications that the more global difference between the state and FEMA over the subject of Codes and Standards would conclusively translate negatively on this local project. Further comments as to what FEMA may or may not decide would be purely speculative.”

As this issue continues to unfold, the town will continue to work to maximize our FEMA reimbursement, and keep residents apprised on the progress.

Sincerely,

Seth Webb, Killington Town Manager

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