Fairfield Still Tallying Costs For Hurricane Sandy

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FEMA crews have been touring Fairfield since the day after Hurricane Sandy hit, but how much the agency will offer in aid to Fairfield is still unclear. Photo Credit: Greg Canuel (File)
Repairing a stretch of pavement on Fairfield Beach Road is one of the major repair projects the town will need to pay for. Photo Credit: Greg Canuel (File)

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fairfield’s government is now mostly finished with its recovery from Hurricane Sandy. Now it’s time for the town to pay the extra bills it built up during the storm.

Fairfield’s Finance Department does not yet know how much the storm recovery will cost the town’s taxpayers. But Chief Fiscal Officer Robert Mayer said all town departments are working to make sure the town gets as much aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as possible.

“There are no numbers,” Mayer told the Board of Finance Tuesday night. “It’s premature to have numbers. But the town is taking every effort to make ensure that we optimize our reimbursement.”

The town’s police, fire, health, public works and other departments were briefed before the storm on how to track their costs for FEMA reimbursement. First Selectman Michael Tetreau also said Tuesday he would consider hiring a consultant to guide Fairfield through the aid application process.

Along with paying for overtime and equipment use during the storm’s aftermath, Fairfield will also have to take care of at least five rebuilding projects because of Sandy’s flooding. The town-owned buildings and roads are covered by insurance policies, but each project would have a $500,000 deductible.

The recently rebuilt Penfield Pavilion saw warping to its deck and floors. A section of Fairfield Beach Road’s pavement was torn up. Tide gates along the shore line were also shifted during the storm. The concession stand at Sasco Beach was knocked down. And the town will have to rebuild the Pequot Avenue Bridge along with Westport.

Fairfield’s government might also have less tax money coming in next summer because of the storm. Residents with storm damage will have until February to ask for a hearing with the Board of Assessment Appeals to ask for lowered tax bills because of a loss of property value through storm damage.

No matter what FEMA ends up awarding Fairfield, the town will need to find a way to pay for the extra costs in the short term. For example, federal reimbursements for Hurricane Irene came to the town this past summer, after the fiscal year had ended, Town Controller Catilin Bosse said Tuesday.

“It’s definitely a reimbursement,” Tetreau said. “We’re going to have to spend the money first.”

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