VINELAND — City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to authorize more than $4 million in emergency spending to cover damage and clean-up costs related to the June 30 storm.
The action, however, comes with a cost for next year.
Almost $600,000 covers costs incurred by city government departments and must be made up in the 2013 budget. That works out to about 2 cents on the local purpose tax rate.
Council voted 5-0 to approve the measure.
Councilman Douglas Albrecht said the emergency expenditure should come as no surprise to residents who lived through the storm two months ago.
“We knew the bill was going to come due,” he said, adding that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse the city for most, if not all, of the costs.
“Obviously, there’s great hope,” said Councilman Louis Cresci, who nonetheless warned that reimbursement from FEMA is “not a sure thing.”
The June 30 storm caused an estimated $100 million in damage to public and private property in the city. Cumberland County officials said about 3,000 homes suffered some kind of damage.
The storm knocked out power to at least 21,000 of the almost 25,000 customers of the Vineland Municipal Electric Utility. Some of those customers did not get power restored to their properties for two weeks because of problems work crews had in getting through debris to reach the utility lines.
The bulk of the package — more than $3.5 million — is for costs incurred by VMEU, which is the city-owned electric company that provides power to all but about a dozen properties in the city.
Council already voted July 17 to approve almost $2 million in emergency spending by the VMEU related to the storm. VMEU spent the money on everything from buying new utility poles to paying for lodging for work crews who came from as far as Texas to help the utility restore power.
The rest of the funds primarily cover overtime for city departments. The largest chunks of overtime involve $122,450 for the Public Works Department and $82,300 for the Police Department.
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