YORK, Maine – Although the Long Sands Beach seawall was struck during last week’s storm, city administrator Steve Burns said the new barrier is holding up well.
“You could really see the difference,” said Burns, describing how the storm surge hit the new build with little or no negative impact.
That was the good news.
The way the repair project is paid for continues to be a cause for concern.
Triggered by massive storms in 2017 and 2018, repairs to the seawall are expected to cost several million dollars. As previously reported, Public Works Director Dean Lessard had anticipated that most of the cost would be reimbursed through state and federal funds. However, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has not yet approved any payments.
These questions came to a head at the Board of Directors meeting on January 25, when Board members asked if the cost of the work carried out exceeded the budget approved by the voters, given that FEMA had no financial commitment. Board member Mike Estes requested a full account and the matter was carried over to the February 8 meeting.
In putting the FEMA accounts on the agenda for further discussion, the board took into account the worst-case scenarios provided by Burns, Lessard, and City Treasurer Wendy Anderson: “I want to find out how much liability there is when FEMA nothing reimbursed at all from the accounts receivable and how much money has been spent so far, ”Burns wrote in an email dated February 5 to Anderson and Lessard.
This potential worst-case scenario gap is nearly $ 2 million in the FEMA Refundable Account. “We should ask voters to approve the use of the credit to cover that amount in the event of a reduced or zero FEMA reimbursement,” Burns wrote in his February 5 report for Board Review and Discussion.
Currently, the city has approval for up to $ 2 million in bond funding for the project, of which approximately $ 1.2 million has been billed to date, Burns wrote, adding that the city needs to be sure not to exceed this current limit of US $ 2 million.
The chosen ones discussed the possibility of adding an arrest warrant article to the ballot, asking voters to approve up to $ 2 million from the city’s fund to cover any costs the city will incur in the event FEMA fails to provide reimbursement. They are also considering the possibility of asking the Budget Committee to postpone the elements of the FY22 dam project for one year.
The board asked the public works department, finance director and city administrator to obtain an opinion from a bond attorney and report to the board by the next meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, February 17th.
“When we get back, we need to have the numbers,” said CEO Todd Frederick.
In response to these concerns, board member Kinley Gregg requested that all work on the seawall be halted from March 1st. However, she later withdrew her application after a brief discussion.
“I don’t want to quit (work) and have safety issues until summer,” said Vice President Robert Palmer Jr.
Board members suggested reconsidering the possibility of discontinuing work after the next meeting if they awaited further information from Public Works.
Budget discussion postponed
The elect had planned to discuss parts of the budget proposal for fiscal year 2022 during the meeting on Monday evening, but this notice was incorrectly issued. The elect plan to revisit the budget discussion on Feb.17, Burns said.
Separately, the Budgets Committee will hold its first public hearing on the budget proposal for fiscal year 22 on February 16, Burns said in an email.
City Hall project manager
The board considered a recommendation to hire a project manager for the Town Hall Building project with a salary of $ 80,000.
Palmer said he wanted to make sure the city is spending enough money to do this job. “It’s too important a project,” he said.
Estes expressed concern that there is currently no need to hire a project manager for this salary.
“I would like to hear from the building committee how much has to be spent. If this committee says $ 80,000, so be it, ”said Estes.
A vote on the matter was postponed until later in February after feedback from the building committee.
Approvals approved for recurring events
With a touch of optimism for the coming year, the board approved a series of post-COVID-city events, starting with the York Parks and Recreation Department’s Spring Surprises slated for March 7th.
The full list of approved events includes the Big A 50k (May 21), the York Little League Opening Day Parade (May 1), and Memorial Day Parade (May 31).
Board approval stipulates that all COVID guidelines must be followed as they may be at the time of the event.
Clarification of the appeal process
Burns told the board that he had prepared a “script” to guide anyone affected by a land use decision in the city. This should clarify the process and assist citizens and staff alike and will be posted on the city’s website this week.
Temporary traffic light must be visited again
Palmer did not provide any information on the progress of the York Beach Connector Road opening and asked for a written report on the status of the temporary traffic lights on Route 1 and Short Sands Road to be presented at the next meeting.