Council tables final approval of storm recovery funds
Aiken County Council agreed to table the final reading of an ordinance to appropriate $2 million or less from the current budget’s general fund for ice storm recovery on Tuesday.
County Administrator Clay Killian asked Council to defer the reading of the amendment for a later hearing after meeting with representatives from the Federal Management Emergency Agency, or FEMA, as well as the S.C. Emergency Management Division. The meeting was held to discuss funding applications for Aiken County to receive federal aid.
“We’re trying to get our arms around the total cost,” County Administrator Clay Killian said. “I don’t think we’re going to exceed $2 million, maybe about half that or even less.”
Officials said the overall cost of the cleanup is $8 million to $10 million, but Aiken County is set to get a 75 percent reimbursement from FEMA.
The state will pick up the remaining 25 percent of the cost to cover recovery and emergency operations since the White House approved Gov. Nikki Haley’s request for federal disaster relief for 21 out of 46 counties last week.
The aid covers public entities, but will not cover individual claims made by homeowners.
“Some of the items, the work we’ve done could be eligible for 85 percent (aid),” Killian said. “ ... We don’t know about cash flow yet, that’s why we want it deferred ... expedited reimbursement is what it means. If we get that chance, we get 50 percent of (the) estimate up front. We wouldn’t have to cash flow the entire cleanup. We’d probably spend more than $2 million, but we would get it back.”
The County established 28 zones throughout the County to collect storm debris. The County’s contractor, Southern Disaster Recovery, has had multiple crews working to clear County-owned roads as well.
Killian said, so far, Southern Disaster Recovery has picked up about 284,000 cubic yards of material in its first pass.
“One of the things we’ve been asked is about posting a schedule (for debris cleanup),” Killian said. “ ... Our contractor has done 28 zones and there are trucks operating in every zone. They don’t want to pin it down to neighborhoods just yet.”
Council also passed a resolution to declare timber located on land owned by Aiken County in Sage Mill as surplus. A portion of that land will be used toward a new speculative building developed by the Economic Development Partnership.
Maayan Schechter is the local government reporter with Aiken Standard.