Long Branch is now appropriating $5 million for Hurricane Sandy-related expenses and is still unsure of how when and how much money FEMA will reimburse the city.
Long Branch CFO Ron Mehlhorn said the council rescinded the emergency appropriation of $2 million it made earlier this month and increased the amount to $5 million on Tuesday night.
"That will give us the ability to write that off over five years instead of having to raise the ($2 million) next yea," Mehlhorn said.
Mehlhorn said the $5 million appropriation is called a special emergency note that allows for damages to streets, bridges and public property damaged by a flood or Hurricane Sandy. It allows the city to pay off one fifth of the appropriation every year for the next five years. Therefore, the city will pay $1 million next year instead of $2 million.
FEMA Reimbursement to City and Residents
Mayor Adam Schneider had originally stated that FEMA would reimburse the city for 90 percent of its costs, but that may not be the case.
Long Branch Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Stantly Dzuiba said FEMA has not yet given the city an answer as to how much it will be reimbursed.
"They (FEMA) were in here today for three hours and they couldn't give us an answer," Dzuiba said.
"Everything we are doing at this point is necessary," Mehlhorn added. "It has to be done no matter how much we get back."
Dzuiba said the meetings with FEMA are important and will help move the reimbursement funding process along.
"We are in the process of trying to deal with FEMA both for the residents and for the city," he said. "It's a big step for us, in terms of trying to get our funding back."
He said the FEMA disaster recovery center on Union Avenue will be operational for about two months, but that many residents have not been able to use FEMA's help for their damaged houses.
"The problem we have is that they can't get a lot of answers right now, because everybody is waiting on their insurance companies," Dzuiba said. "FEMA won't react on anything until people get either a yay or nay from their insurance company. If they get denied, they try to jump on it right away as fast as they can."
Dzuiba said it could take 4-6 weeks for residents with damaged houses to hear how much they will be covered by their insurance company.
Councilwoman Kathleen Billings said her insurance company told her it could up to four months because they have extended their deadline because of the number of claims.