Area officials beginning to see the costs of May floods

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express

In a special meeting called last week, the Jerusalem Town Board voted to hire consultants and extra clerical help to cope with the Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief bureaucracy.

A short-term, 60-day consultancy contract was awarded to Simmons Recovery Consulting of Ballston Spa. The board also approved the long-term contract to be drafted into a formal request for proposal for public bidding.

To manage all the added paperwork the applications and verification required, the board also approved a $4,000 expenditure to hire part time clerical help at the town office.

The Penn Yan Village Board will also consider contracting with Simmons Recovery at a special meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 8.

When the Yates County Public Works Committee met Aug. 4, legislators gave Yates County Highway Superintendent David Hartman presented options for making repairs to an area of major damage along the Italy Turnpike Road (County Road 34). The estimate for repairs there is near $500,000. While FFEMA funding will cover 75 percent of that cost, the county will have to pay for the repairs first before being reimbursed. The county’s final cost will be $125,000 for that project alone.

County Administrator Sarah Purdy reminded legislators if the funds for the project are spent from the existing general fund, options for applying general funds to reduce the anticipated 2015 tax levy will be reduced. “There will be no fund balance in the road fund to help offset the levy next year,” she said, later adding, “I can’t go into the budget process assuming that we will get it (reimbursement) in time to offset the tax levy.”

County Treasurer Nonie Flynn assured the legislators that the county will have sufficient cash on hand to cover the expense and the reimbursement will replenish the general fund.

Local officials have just begun meeting with FEMA representatives this week, says Hartman.

In a flashback of the May floods, heavy localized rainstorms, in some places upward of four inches, flooded Jerusalem’s creeks and roadways again over the weekend.

Penn Yan Mayor Leigh MacKerchar reports there was no major water damage from Sunday night’s storm, which caused Sucker Brook to rise. Volunteers were called in to help fill sandbags.

In Jerusalem Saturday and Sunday evenings, fire fighters and highway workers dealt with rising creeks, plugged culverts and some wash-outs.

Belknap Hill, Corwin, and Guyanoga Valley Roads were all closed temporarily. Hartman said a culvert under Guyanoga that had plugged with gravel and debris in May had plugged again. With the help of the Branchport Volunteer Fire Dept., the culvert was flushed out, and the road reopened Monday afternoon.

Hartman says there was no damage to Guyanoga road.