Press-Republican

Local News

July 23, 2013

Franklin County Legislators mull clerk for FEMA work

MALONE — Franklin County Emergency Services and Highway Department officials want municipalities get their share of at least $400,000 to $500,000 in storm-recovery funds.

They want to hire a part-time clerk to assist towns and villages with Federal Emergency Management Agency paperwork to recover what they spent repairing damage caused by recent torrential rain and flooding.

County Emergency Services Director Ricky Provost and County Highway Superintendent Jonathan Hutchins made their appeal to legislators, seeking permission to add a staff member whose salary would be repaid through the disaster funds received.

Once the money is gone, the position would be gone, they said.

LAGGING BEHIND

Hutchins said disasters have been declared five times in the two and a half years he has worked for the county and that FEMA wants to see more cooperation in getting claims processed faster “and not let them drag for two years.”

Some towns and villages have been eligible for reimbursements but either don’t know how to compile the needed documentation or have no time or staff to do the work because there are so few municipal highway or public works employees.

Provost said one town was deemed eligible to receive $240,000 in reimbursements but only submitted a bill for $37,000.

“They do the work, but they don’t have the time and energy to do the paperwork and follow through,” he said.

A county-hired staff person could be housed in the Highway Department and make site visits to the various towns to sit down with officials and gather the needed paperwork and documents to submit to FEMA.

“There is $400,000 to $500,000 left from 2011 flooding to give out,” Provost said. “If we get them caught up and up-to-date, we’re not lagging three years behind.”

NO COUNTY COST

County Manager Thomas Leitz asked if existing staff could be used for the job, but both men said it would be better to have someone familiar with how FEMA programs work who is dedicated to the task.

The person would be paid through grant funding, they said, so adding staff would not cost the county anything. And it would go a long way in improving relationships with the municipalities.

The exact Civil Service classification must be worked out before legislators can make a final decision, but the position is expected to be discussed again at the next meeting, set for Aug. 1.

Email Denise A. Raymo:draymo@pressrepublican.com

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