Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart announced Thursday that FEMA approved the town for $1.75 million in February to pay for debris removal and emergency protective measures related to Hurricane Sandy.
The federal government pays for 75% of that money, which the town has already received. The town is still waiting on the 25% that New York State is responsible for.
"An outstanding performance by our finance director, Jeff Bencik, and our department heads put Orangetown first in line for reimbursement of Sandy cleanup costs," Stewart said. "Our regional FEMA representative informed me that Finance Director Jeff Bencik's quick turn around time and thorough documentation through meetings, telephone calls and emails really paid off. According to FEMA, Orangetown received funding in record breaking time, setting the standard for Rockland County and other counties under Branch 3 of FEMA."
Getting the reimbursement quickly helps to minimize the of unexpected expenses such as the October storm. Until the reimbursement arrives, the town either has to borrow the money and pay interest on it or use reserve funds, costing the town potential revenue from interest or investments.
"It's a good thing in the sense we got paid. We don't have the money to shell out for this kind of disaster with the tax cap and other (issues)," Bencik said. "It is very important to get the money back to keep us level.
"In some cases, we haven't received all of the funding from Hurricane Irene (in 2011) yet. The longer we have to wait, the more it costs the town."
The money is broken up into two categories, Category A for debris removal and Category B for emergency protective measures. Bencik said Orangetown has applications for categories C through H still pending, but those are much smaller amounts of money.
The emergency protective measures include items such as the cost of fuel for generators to keep the sewer department and town hall running during and after the storm, overtime for Orangetown Police and the keeping Orangetown's Emergency Operations Center fully staffed. That total came to $533,000.
The rest was for debris removal, primarily the work done by the Orangetown Highway Department to aid in cleaning up after the storm. In addition to overtime for the department, Orangetown brought in outside contractors to aid in the effort.