Athens County Aims For Reimbursement On FEMA Projects

By
Steve Robb - Athens Messenger staff reporter


Updated Mon, May 19, 2014 3:13 pm

Athens County Engineer Jeff Maiden is hoping to get more than $233,000 in federal and state reimbursements for six FEMA protects completed during the administration of former engineer Archie Stanley.

Included were four culvert projects and two slip-repair projects for which Maiden's staff was able to compile records for $355,305 in costs. Based on a 75 percent reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and 12.5 percent from the state, the county should have been able to get $310,892 in reimbursements.

However, The Messenger reported earlier this month that FEMA disallowed $88,340 in costs associated with a County Road 36 (Hooper Ridge) project because a contractor was hired in 2011 without a written contract and without competitive bidding. That will result in a loss of $77,297 in reimbursements, bringing the total the county is expecting to receive in reimbursements down to $233,595. Of that, $110,113 has already been received because the Hooper Ridge project was classified as a large project, and reimbursement comes sooner for those.

The county still has 11 FEMA projects left to complete, and Maiden said that because of the loss of the $77,297 he plans to re-evaluate a couple of the projects to make sure they are absolutely necessary. The local match on those projects would be about $100,000, based on pre-construction estimates.

A year ago, Maiden said that records were in disarray when he took office in 2013 and he called it a "forensic effort" to try to piece together documentation of costs for the six Stanley-era projects. Also, Maiden said other records were missing and he asked the sheriff's office to investigate, although no charges resulted.

Maiden was asked Friday if all the cost records for the six projects were found.

"I don't know. I have no way of knowing," Maiden responded.

Even if there were some costs records that were not found, it's unclear whether that could result in a loss of any reimbursement. All but one of the projects were classified as small projects based on cost estimates, and FEMA's 75 percent was provided up front.

Laura Adcock of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, which administers FEMA projects in the state, said that normally FEMA does not require repayment if costs end up being less than the original estimate. As for the 12.5 percent in state reimbursement, Adcock indicated she could not definitively say if there is a potential for lost reimbursement.

The FEMA projects date back to 2011. Athens County was among 21 counties in Ohio declared disaster areas following the flooding and severe storms that occurred April 4 to May 15 of 2011.

Last year, the engineer's department completed two of the projects, for which it hopes to get $58,728 in reimbursement. Also, before leaving office, Stanley had submitted four projects with an expected reimbursement of $379,716, of which the $341,667 has already been paid to the county.

Most of the 2011 FEMA projects are classified as small projects, for which FEMA provided its 75 percent up front, based on cost estimates. After all the projects are completed, there will be a final accounting to determine what the final FEMA and state reimbursements should be.

There are 11 projects, most of them slips, that remain to be done. All but three are classified as small projects.

"Our plan is to complete these by the end of the year, and most of it will be fall work," Maiden said.

On those projects for which work will be put out to bid, Maiden said he plans to have those projects out to bid by end of June.

Adcock said it is not unusual to have uncompleted projects at this stage, since the timing for completing projects depends on the workload of an engineer's department and budget availability of matching money.

If the engineer's department does not get some of the remaining 11 projects done by the end of the year, whether a further extension is granted will depend on the circumstances, Adcock said.

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