Governor, Boulder County Commissioners meeting for first FEMA payment under new system

BOULDER, Colo. - Nearly a year after the floods of September 2013, Colorado's governor is meeting with Boulder County Commissioners to announce a new FEMA reimbursement process.

Gov. John Hickenlooper is also presenting the first payment under the new reimbursement process -- a check for $1.154 million.

The money is an advance on the $3.4 million in reimbursements Boulder County has requested under the FEMA Public Assistance Program, according to state spokesman Tom Schilling. Hickenlooper authorized $20 million in cash advances and the state distributed $7.3 million of that during July.

FEMA Public Assistance Program money funds the repair or replacement of infrastructure like roads or bridges.

Under the new, expedited program, four staff members were added to help process recovery payments. Schilling added that the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Executive Management can reimburse 50 percent of all requests over $10,000 that require a longer review before the full request can be repaid with FEMA funds. There is a $1 million cap for any single reimbursement under this program.

"Turnaround times have dramatically improved under this new program – during the month of July we tripled the amount of previous reimbursements," Hickenlooper said. "We sought a new approach, because we needed to keep pace with the communities as they repair or replace damaged roads, bridges, buildings and other infrastructure."

Tens of millions of dollars were allocated by FEMA for projects in the Town of Lyons, but so far Town Finance Manager Tony Cavalier said they've only received about $1.5 million.

"The process to get the funds that have already been sent to the state was taking 90 plus days.  We work with some individuals directly, we feel like we're in a good position with them," Cavalier said. "We feel we understand what they're doing. They've even tweaked their requirements and we feel that their process is working."

"We're starting to get into the point where we need to get those reimbursements back," said Boulder County Commissioners Staff Deputy Michelle Krezek.

Boulder County has spent about $39 million on flood repair so far, Krezek said. FEMA funds can reimburse municipalities for 75 percent of the cost and the state can pay for an additional 12.5 percent.

Schilling said that municipalities have filed requests $35.4 million in reimbursements to date. $9.5 million of those have been approved, including $4.5 million in the past 30 days.

Another $2.3 million is approved for payment over the next week, he said.

"We need to get that money back in so we can fund other projects going forward," Krezek said.

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