Tag Archives: FEMA

Shumlin seeks disaster declaration

MONTPELIER – Gov. Peter Shumlin made a formal request Friday for federal disaster relief to help 10 of Vermont’s 14 counties pay for repairs to the power grid and other public infrastructure damaged in a winter storm last month.

The administration said Addison, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans, Rutland, Washington and Windsor counties have damages that meet federal standards to qualify for a Public Assistance disaster declaration.

The disaster declaration, if granted, would allow communities and public utilities in impacted counties to receive a 75 percent reimbursement for storm response and recovery. Those costs include debris removal and repairs to the power grid, public roads, bridges and other infrastructure damaged during the storm.

A preliminary assessment by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that started on December 17 has identified nearly $4 million in damages in Vermont during the storm between December 9 and 12. The state is required to show $1 million in damages to qualify for a disaster declaration. Continue reading

Waterbury state office complex project plugging along

Updates from the Legislative Joint Fiscal Committee on Thursday:

-WATERBURY – The Legislative Joint Fiscal Committee signed off on the Modified Option B plan for the Waterbury state office complex Thursday. The current project cost presented Thursday was $124,655,000, and it will provide space for 974 occupants.

-REIMBURSEMENT – The state learned last week that the Brooks Building and an annex at the Waterbury state office complex is eligible for repairs by the Federal Emergency Management Agency at the 500-year floodplain level, not just the 100-year floodplain, Agency of Administration Deputy Secretary Michael Clasen said.

The state plans to demolish both buildings, but the increased threshold means more money for the state.

-COMMISSIONER – Department of Mental Health Commissioner Patrick Flood, who plans to pursue other options, will have his last day Friday. He plans to take two weeks of vacation. His deputy will fill in as acting commissioner.

Less state workers in Waterbury could help reduce project by $19 million

In the governor’s press conference at the Waterbury state office complex last week, the administration showed at least one response the state could use if it doesn’t receive expected funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

If needed, $19 million could be saved.

On Wednesday, Gov. Peter Shumlin said he’ll proceed with the new state hospital rather than wait for FEMA, but he noted the administration doesn’t want to proceed with demolishing buildings at the state office complex until the state knows that doing so won’t jeopardize Vermont’s eligibility for FEMA disaster aid.

The new state office complex is expected to cost $125 million. Additional psychiatric beds across the state and the new state hospital in Berlin amount to about $45 million in total.

The state has railed against FEMA for suggesting several redevelopment costs would likely be ineligible for aid. State officials said in July agency representatives initially indicated the costs would be eligible for federal aid.

The state is expecting $80 million to $90 million in FEMA aid for combined projects.

The governor also pointed out how if the number of office workers in Waterbury is dropped from more than 900 to 806, the state could save some $20 million. Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding wrote in an email to the Vermont Press Bureau that the option, which includes reducing the number of state workers from about 950 to 800 along with various other savings, would reduce the cost of the preferred plan for the new state office complex from $125 million to $106 million.

About 1,500 workers were based at the Waterbury complex, and 1,200 worked there regularly.

Architecture firm Freeman French Freeman identified various proposals in March. The cheapest option was $108 million to build a new state office complex and buy land, possibly in Berlin. Other options included demolishing the Labor Department building off Memorial Drive in Montpelier and rebuilding there for $119 million or demolishing and reusing portions of the Waterbury site for $134 million. A full reuse of the Waterbury site with demolition of several buildings by the Winooski River was $143 million.