Wilton proposes FEMA reimbursement fund

At Monday night’s Wilton Board of Selectmen meeting, Sandy Dennies, chief financial officer, made a presentation on reimbursement of FEMA funds.

According to a document on FEMA’s website, “Each department may be eligible for reimbursement for the use of equipment owned (Force Account Equipment) by the department when it is used in disaster work.”

Ms. Dennies spoke with the board about the establishment of a capital non-recurring fund. This account would allow the town to appropriate money for future equipment purchases. Monday’s presentation served as a proposal to the board.

“The use of equipment has to be very specific, such as saws and chippers,” she said in an interview with The Bulletin. “Equipment has a life. It gets abused during storms.”

Ms. Dennies specifically spoke of Superstorm Sandy, as well as the recent February blizzard known as Nemo.

“FEMA recognizes the need to replace items,” she said. “When there is a storm that is reimbursable, there are a number of different categories.”

Ms. Dennies added that the types of equipment, along with an hourly labor rate, must be documented.

Specific to equipment, FEMA says reimbursement claims may be made for equipment that is owned as well as rented.

In its online documentation, the agency says, “Equipment that is damaged and/or lost during disaster incidents may be eligible for reimbursement. The damage and/or loss must be documented along with sufficient supportive documentation such as video and/or photographs.

“Factors such as insurance, salvage, and age of the equipment (a Blue Book type of figure) will also be considered as a part of the review of the claim. If the documentation is not comprehensive, detailed and accurate, portions of the claim and possibly the entire claim may be disallowed.”

Ms. Dennies said the town is within its right to establish this account.

“We’ve checked with our auditors and they have agreed, and if we are interested in putting the fees aside, we could put the money into a fund that will allow us to appropriate it for equipment,” she said. “The understanding is that we can set up the fund to put the reimbursed funds into it.

“The structure of the proposal is being put together as we speak,” she added.