Fair Lawn Files for $845K in Hurricane Irene-related Losses
The borough is eligible for 75 percent reimbursement from the federal government on its filed losses.
A project specialist with the Federal Emergency Management Agency has calculated Fair Lawn's total losses from Hurricane Irene at just over $845,500 -- slightly higher than borough manager Tom Metzler said he had anticipated.
FEMA will reimburse the borough for 75 percent of that amount, or just over $634,000. The borough is responsible for making up the rest.
"That's the bad news," Metzler said of the costs Fair Lawn must incur. "The good news is that they are costs the borough has incurred. And that’s a key point."
Following the hurricane, chief financial officer Karen Palermo paid off what costs she could with available borough money and borrowed to pay for the rest, Metzler said.
Now, as FEMA money arrives, it will be used first to pay off the bond, with the remainder slated for surplus to offset next year's budget shortfall.
Metzler said he anticipates that with the FEMA money -- in addition to revenue generated from the water meter service charge hike, third-party ambulance billing and the municipal court -- next year's budget shortfall will hover between $500,000 and $900,000.
Previously, Metzler had been firm that next year's shortfall was $900,000. Now, he said, the number is more fluid because the FEMA numbers are higher than he'd anticipated.
Metzler said it's possible FEMA's loss figures for Fair Lawn could change pending an audit, but that he's fairly confident they'll remain right around $845,000. He's not so certain, however, that the money from FEMA will arrive any time soon.
“It’s not uncommon for us to go a year-and-a-half, two years before we see some of this money,” he said. "Until the checks are actually received, it's meaningless."
The borough is still awaiting word from FEMA on recouping some of its losses from the October snowstorm that brought down dozens of tree branches and power lines around town.