County looks at reserve fund for Irma cleanup

Kile Brewer
Posted 1/3/18

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – With months of debris cleanup coming to a close following Hurricane Irma, Clay County has started receiving invoices for work completed in the storm’s aftermath.

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County looks at reserve fund for Irma cleanup

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – With months of debris cleanup coming to a close following Hurricane Irma, Clay County has started receiving invoices for work completed in the storm’s aftermath.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of County Commissioners’ Finance and Audit Committee, comprised of BCC members Mike Cella and Gayward Hendry, staff presented a proposal to move $7 million from the county’s reserve fund into the county’s Disaster Recovery fund.

“This is what we anticipate our needs will be as they currently stand,” said Clayton Meng, county finance director. He said that the money would mostly go toward paying back contractors who handled storm debris cleanup and removal.

So far, the county has received invoices for about 120,000 of the 500,000 cubic yards of storm debris that was picked up, stored, and taken to landfills in the months that followed Irma. At the height of the cleanup, temporary landfill-like sites – which are now being closed and cleaned – were opened up throughout the county to store both vegetative and construction debris to allow crews to remove as much as they could as fast as possible.

Hendry asked for the total dollar amount that the storm would end up costing, which Meng quoted at around $10 million. Of that amount, the county will end up being responsible for about $2.5 million, with the other $7.5 million being reimbursed through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

However, that reimbursement might take up to two years as some of the money from 2016’s Hurricane Matthew has yet to be paid out. Meng remained optimistic, though, when comparing Clay to other areas impacted by the most recent of the two storms.

“We’re fortunate, it might not seem like we’re fortunate, but we are,” Meng said. “A lot of counties around the state are having to take out debt to front this reimbursement, we’re fortunate that we have it available.”

As is the duty of the committee, Cella and Hendry agreed that this item would not be placed on the consent agenda as many of the Finance and Audit items are. Instead this would be heard by the full BCC as an agenda item at one of their two January meetings.

“This definitely has to go to the full board, so everybody isn’t surprised by where we are,” Cella said. “The most important aspect of that is for our citizens to know that there are certain things that we may not be able to move forward on this year because of that.”

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