LEWISBORO, N.Y. – The Lewisboro Town Board would like to get more information about federal financial aid before implementing a plan that would help homeowners with storm debris removal.
The plan currently calls for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay $75 for every $100 spent by the town on the cleanup of debris left by Hurricane Sandy.
“The question is, who pays the other $25?” Supervisor Peter Parsons said. “There is a proposal that there will be an additional $15 paid [for every $100 spent] by the federal government, bringing it to a total of 90 percent.”
Parsons said there is also a “tradition, not a law” that the state would contribute 12.5 percent to such projects, but it probably wouldn’t do that if FEMA adds the additional 15 percent.
The dilemma facing the Town Board is that it needs to vote on the plan soon but might not know exactly how much the town would be reimbursed.
“The problem is that the only figure we know for sure right now is the 75 percent,” Parsons said. “My FEMA rep has no power over whether it’s 75 or 90 percent. He’s waiting to hear, just like us. I am terribly suspicious that we will have to suck it up and either accept or reject the plan as it stands. I don’t think there will be any more information forthcoming in the foreseeable future.”
The town has already put out the bid request for a contractor that would help the Highway Department with the project. The bid asks for the daily eight-hour rate of a three-person crew with a truck and a chipper.
The estimated cost of the project is about $250,000, of which the town could wind up being responsible for about $60,000. That money would be attributed to the 2012 budget, not the 2013 budget, which the town is currently preparing.
“The problem is, we can table this issue, but it’s winter and the snow and ice aren’t going to make doing the job any easier,” Parsons said.
The board hopes to make a decision in the next few weeks. If it does get approved, homeowners will be required to bring their hurricane debris, such as downed trees that have been sawed up, as well as damaged shrubs and bushes, to the side of the road where crews can pick it up and pass it through the chipper.
“It can only be debris from the hurricane,” Parsons said. “It will be up to the discretion of the crew if it came from Sandy. If it looks like five-year-old rotted wood, they won’t touch it. This can’t be used as an excuse to get rid of something that’s been around for a donkey’s age.”