Washington County continues its wait for federally requested funding to assist with repairs from 2016’s flooding.
During commissioners court this (Tuesday) morning, Commissioner Kirk Hanath asked Emergency Management Coordinator Bryan Ruemke how the process of acquiring the funding was coming along. Ruemke stated the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is now requiring a new form to be submitted, which is being filled out by Debbie Winslow of the county Road and Bridge Department.
Ruemke said the process continues to be a “long, drawn-out affair”, with communication between the county and FEMA sometimes getting lost.
County Road and Bridge Engineer Ross McCall reported last October the county had received about $1.54 million of the $3 million the county can receive. The county paid $3.92 million total in repairs, but can only receive 75-percent of damages back as reimbursement from FEMA. The county has not received any additional funding since then.
Hanath asked if commissioners need to get involved, saying federal agencies have “moved the goalpost”, but McCall reassured him county agencies could still handle it. McCall said he is continuing to try to get answers from FEMA and accommodate them, but could not give a timeframe as to when further progress would be made.
Commissioner Joy Fuchs said this issue isn’t exclusive to Washington County, as several other states have similar complaints going through the FEMA funding process. County Judge John Durrenberger added other county judges have told him they are “amazed” the county is where it is in the process. Fuchs said she feels bad about all the ire being thrown towards FEMA, but maintained they “deserve it”.
Commissioners also approved:
- Re-advertising for proposals for inmate food services for the county jail. Sheriff’s Office Captain Eric Hensley said Aramark has agreed to extend their contract with the county to cook for jail inmates.
- Right-of-way permit applications for Fourth of July parades in Chappell Hill and Independence.
- Renewal of an inter-local agreement between the county and the Health and Human Services Commission for lease space at the Brenham Health and Service Center at 100 South Chappell Hill Street.
- Disbursement of county salaries per Senate Bill 354. Through the bill, salaries will no longer need to be approved every other week in commissioners court, as long as the salaries are budgeted.
- A 60-day extension of 72 excess vacation hours for Gerald Wehring with the Sheriff’s Office. The court also approved a 60-day extension of 29.5 excess vacation hours for Edward Ortega with the Sheriff’s Office.
- A formal utility installation for a road bore from Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative for Old Mill Creek Road for an underground electric line in Precinct Four.