Dodge County has put together an interlocal agreement, vowing to help its townships fund flood-damaged roads and bridges that will ultimately be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Dodge County’s townships have been dealing with far greater damage from last month’s flooding than their smaller budgets can handle, members of the county Board of Supervisors said during a meeting on Wednesday.
“Typical townships don’t carry more than $10 to $25,000 extra, which doesn’t sound like much, but for their budget it is,” Supervisor Lon Strand said on Wednesday. “A lot of them were out of money in the first week.”
Board chairman Bob Missel described the new fund as a “loan pool,” which would allow townships to borrow money from the county for FEMA-eligible road and bridge projects. Once FEMA pays the townships back, then they will reimburse the county, Missel said.
The agreement was necessary because, while the county expects that FEMA will reimburse much of the county’s damages, it will take time for those reimbursements to come through — potentially even years, board members have said.
At Wednesday’s meeting, the board also officially established a $4 million flood relief fund by transferring money from other funds in its 2018-2019 budget to address damages to things like county-run roads and bridges. That money will help the county address crucial repairs before projects get reimbursed by FEMA.
It’s likely that the money from that fund will also go toward reimbursing the townships, but county officials say that $4 million is only “seed money,” and will not cover the full extent of the damage.
Missel said that the county would likely be exploring a bond issue to put more money into that fund.
Certain details of the new township assistance program still need to be ironed out, such as exactly how the money will flow between entities. The resolution establishing the program, which passed on Wednesday, just creates “the tool to provide the assistance.”
Townships need to be sure to document their work and FEMA-eligible expenses.
Strand noted that there were some concerns that some townships may not be accurately documenting the work they’ve been doing or the damages that they’ve incurred. That documentation is necessary to receive FEMA funding. He was also concerned that at least one township may have started doing work that they believe is FEMA-eligible, but is not.
“You can’t just randomly do stuff and turn it in and think you’re going to get paid,” he said.
Dodge County Highway Superintendent Scott Huppert said that, at this point, the only FEMA-eligible projects are emergency projects, like fixing a road that is crucial for residents to access or leave their homes. Townships can also begin work on debris removal. All other work should wait until after consulting with FEMA, he said.
“Right now they’re only supposed to be doing emergency projects or debris removal,” Huppert said. “That’s what you need to be doing now.”
“Whatever else [FEMA’s] going to fix, don’t know,” he added.