This could be an important week in Vermont’s recovery from the damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene. State officials are expecting to hear how much money FEMA will pay for the rehabilitation of the state office complex in Waterbury.
The dispute over funding for the state buildings in Waterbury is one that potentially involves tens of millions of dollars.
The question is whether FEMA will reimburse the state for the cost of repairing buildings that were damaged by the floods or if the federal agency will help the state demolish the structures and assist in the construction of a new state office building on the Waterbury campus.
Vermont’s 3 person congressional delegation has gotten directly involved in this issue.
Congressman Peter Welch commented, "What we can do as a Congressional delegation is support aggressively the efforts of the Shumlin Administration to get everything that the law allows."
About a week ago, the delegation met with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to argue the state’s case. Welch says the meeting went well.
"What Mr. Fugate did assure us is that every dollar that Vermont is entitled to get it will get," said Welch. "What he said specifically about Waterbury is that there’s additional information and documentation about value about what was the condition of the building that he’s continuing to work with the Shumlin Administration on and we’ll be monitoring this as much as we can."
There’s a lot of money at stake in this fight. State officials say full finding would amount to roughly 85 million dollars but they really don’t expect to get that much money.
Welch says he doesn’t know what the final funding level will be but he expects the state to be treated fairly by FEMA.
"What I am satisfied is that Mr. Fugate heard loud and clear from senator Leahy, senator Sanders and I that we want prompt attention to Vermont requests," said Welch. "We want to make certain that Vermont gets every dollar that it’s entitled to and whether that will be satisfactory or not we’ll have to wait and see what that decision is."
The Shumlin Administration says it would like to stick with its comprehensive plan to renovate the state office complex in Waterbury but a lack of federal funding could cause the governor to re-examine this decision.