FEMA funding, questions remain

Dear Editor,

The letter to the editor in last week’s edition penned by Town Manager Seth Webb on the town’s behalf, seemed more of a press release than the answers I was looking for regarding FEMA reimbursement.

I posed these questions to Webb in an email a week before writing the letter for publication. I thought it would be a great idea to give my questions to the town in advance so we could have some answers at the same time. But what I got was, in my opinion, a press release, which still leaves many questions unanswered.

A few points of clarification: Webb answered question #1 that the town budgeted $223,778 for reimbursements for Irene work done in the 2015-2016 budget in an email to me. I take it that we have not received any of that money thus far?

Regarding the status of our reimbursement, in question #3 I asked if you were aware of the ruling from FEMA, you answered “yes” and went on about the Vermont Department of Energy Services, who is our link to FEMA, and that they’ve been working with FEMA on our behalf and were planning to submit their case in July (this month). In question #4 I asked if this ruling from FEMA, June 24, would have an impact on the town of Killington as it affects many other towns. You went on to quote Joe Flynn, director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security for the state of Vermont, saying: “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.”

When reading this, it seems that the $223,778 is still up in the air. You went on further to make a statement “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.”

This brings up another question as this statements make it sound as if this is the first time the town has presented this claim. My understanding, correct me if I’m wrong, we are 4 years from Irene and have made this claim multiple times with FEMA denying us and the funds. These statements from the town and Joe Flynn make me think this is our last chance to collect on this claim. Is this true? Or can we expect more appeals for this funding? When will we know definitively about this claim?

My hope in posing such questions is to facilitate a transparent dialogue in the local paper without me or you taking time away from our Selectmen’s meeting. These are questions that many ask me when I’m out and I know many residents are also eager to know the answers.

Jim Haff, Killington

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