$600K Sandy Bill Reimbursement Sought in Bernards

Township to meet with federal emergency management agency representative in early January, administrator says.

Bernards Township already has filed an application with the Federal Emergency Management Agency seeking reimbursement for extra manpower and cleanup following Sandy's strike on Oct. 29, and eventually expects about 75 percent of that cost to come back, Township Administrator Bruce McArthur said.

McArthur again said the township already has spent or is committed to spending in the neighborhood of about $600,000 for overtime costs related to the storm, department of public works cleanup measures, the costs of keeping the Pill Hill reycling center open extra days to accept storm debris, the cost of hiring outside tree crews and debris haulers and debris disposal.

Last week, the Township Committee adopted the $250,000 emergency appropriation that will be carried over into next year's budget, McArthur said on Thursday.

The township already has filed paperwork with FEMA, in a joint application with the township Sewerage Authority, seeking reimbursement for storm-related debris management and cleanup, McArthur said. Municipal staff members have attended workshops jointly sponsored by FEMA and the New Jersey Department of Protection, he said.

McArthur said the township representatives have scheduled a first one-on-one appointment with an individual FEMA representative for early January. That tour will include a tour of township facilities, including the Pill Hill facility.

The township expects to receive 75 percent reimbursement for storm-related debris management and cleanup, protective measures taken immediately after the storm and some operating costs of running equipment and generators, McArthur said.

He said that some Sandy-related cleanup that can be applied to the FEMA application likely will continue for the next couple of months, including identifying damaged trees that are hazardous, infrastructure repairs and disposing of additional materials. Other long-term damage that may be eligible for FEMA reimbursement — but won't be repaired until spring — include damage to walkways and bikeways, and pavement damaged by tree roots, he said.

There also was storm damage on which the township should be able to collect insurance payments, although no dollar amount has been set in that area yet, McArthur said.

That includes a police car that was damaged, roof damage at the police department and town hall, a damaged guardrail, a damaged fire siren and electronic emergency signs and a fence that needs replacement.

Bernards officials have said — and confirmed this month — that the township will not pay for the curbside pickup of storm debris from private property. Mayor Mary Pavlini has said that service, given the immensity of tree damage from Sandy, could cost taxpayers "millions." Instead the township has extended hours at the Pill Hill recycling facility for the drop off of debris by residents or their contractors for additional days, Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., along with 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. hours on Saturdays and Sundays.



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