The Plumas County Public Works Department is low on cash thanks to two outstanding bills amounting to a colossal $579,000 due from Federal Emergency Management Agency, and there is no telling when that payment is going to come.
At the regular Board of Supervisor’s meeting Oct. 19, Public Works Director Bob Perreault requested the use of a $600,000 contingency fund that was approved in the county’s budget for road works. The fund transfer is necessary after the department’s cash flow has dipped below $100,000. Perreault said they are waiting on a little over $1 million in reimbursements from various sources. Over 50 percent of those reimbursements are to come from FEMA.
After a tough winter, the county public works department had a lot of work to do in repairs. However, Assistant Public Works Director John Mannle said that the reimbursement for the work is slow coming because FEMA is out of money.
“As of right now, no one has received a dollar in California,” said Mannle.
Mannle reported that after all the fires and hurricanes that happened this year, FEMA has informed all the entities in California that the only projects that would be reimbursed are debris removal and preventative measures in the aftermath of the storms.
There are 71 disaster sites in Plumas County and if the department can recover the debris removal costs by the end of the year it would be ahead of schedule. Mannle also reported that the California highway repair fund is also out of money, so only one of the seven sites that the department applied to be reimbursed for will get funds.
He said the only way to get the payments caught up is a new appropriations bill for disaster relief in Congress and in the state. Perreault suggested that the board formulate a letter to Congress in case there isn’t any change in the next few weeks.
“We need to start talking about it,” said Supervisor Sherrie Thrall. “Those two figures are a significant amount of what you are wanting to transfer, and it sounds like they might be in question for a long time.”
Mannle said the department might receive enough money for the debris removal and preventative measures, but money for the permanent restoration of projects is still in question.