County waits for reimbursement for emergency workStutsman County commissioners learned Tuesday that emergency work continues to cope with high water while the county waits for federal reimbursement.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
Stutsman County commissioners learned Tuesday that emergency work continues to cope with high water while the county waits for federal reimbursement.
“We’re pretty much caught up on the 2009 and 2010 Emergency Road reimbursements,” said Noel Johnson, Stutsman County chief operating officer. “We had anticipated that money coming in so it was built into the budgets. We are down to less than $1 million in fund balances in the road funds after the ER work done this year.”
Emergency road work is reimbursed at 100 percent by the U.S. Department of Transportation if the work is done to meet standards. The county has authorized more than $3.7 million in ER work this year. The reimbursement funding for these projects has not yet been authorized by Congress, Johnson said. The county must pay the contractors upon completion of the project and wait for the federal reimbursement.
County projections had anticipated ending the year with about $4.2 million in ending balances in road funds. The ER work authorized so far has reduced those projected ending balances to about $800,000 with other projects still under consideration.
“The area east of Kensal is beyond a grade raise,” said Dave Schwartz, county commissioner. “The inundated area is a half-mile long and 3 feet deep.”
Schwartz said the area is known locally as the Four Corners and is the intersection of an east-west county road and a north-south township road. Both are underwater for about half a mile. The county was developing detours around the area for local traffic.
New damage to roads since July 20 may not be covered by the existing disaster declaration, said Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager.
“The Presidential Disaster Declaration ended July 20,” he said. “Any new damages since July 20 would have to go towards a new Presidential Disaster Declaration.”
Damage to public infrastructure documented before July 20 that becomes worse after July 20 is covered. Areas receiving new damage would not be covered by the declaration and the cost of any repairs would be 100 percent local cost.
“We’ve had a lot of rains since July 20,” Bergquist said. “Especially in the northern tier of the county. Kensal declared an emergency last week.”
Bergquist said some surrounding counties were declaring an additional emergency. If the total damages to public infrastructure around North Dakota reached $1 million the state could apply for a second Presidential Disaster Declaration.
“I don’t know what the likelihood of a second presidential declaration is this time of year but if it keeps raining we may be forced to find out,” he said.
The county has a supply of sand and sandbags available for public use if the need arises.
In other business, Johnson distributed information regarding the 16 applicants to be the county’s next chief operating officer. Johnson intends to retire in the next months.
The applicants included seven listing North Dakota addresses but only one with a Stutsman County address. Other applicants listed Minnesota, Pennsylvania, California, Idaho and India as current addresses.
The commissioners will review the applications and choose five to interview at a special commission meeting at 7:30 a.m. Friday at the courthouse.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org