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Shelby County, Shelbyville and Simpsonville paid thousands of dollars to clean up after January's ice storm, and now it appears that money will be coming back into those governments' pockets.
Gov. Steve Beshear's office has announced that the state will do more to reimburse what many counties and cities spent in cleanup of the storm that downed so many trees and power lines while racking up 769,000 power outages across the Commonwealth.
"Normally the state doesn't reimburse -- it's just a cost the city has to absorb," Shelbyville City Clerk/Treasurer Inez Harris said. "Since the cost was so great this time and cities are struggling, it's really something that's going to come in handy."
Typically, the Federal Emergency Management Agency would pay 75 percent of the costs, with the state paying 12 percent, and the local governments covering the remaining 13 percent -- which estimates to be around $7.6 million statewide.
But now the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will pay the 13 percent local governments were previously responsible for, along with the state's 12 percent, covering a total of a quarter of the cleanup costs, or around $14.6 million, for all 93 counties that were declared disaster areas by FEMA.
For the state to cover those costs, it will use rural secondary emergency and construction contingency funds allocated by the KTC.
Budgets for Shelby County and Simpsonville also will benefit from the announcement. Simpsonville City Administrator David Eaton said he's already gotten the federal check from FEMA, and getting another check from the state will have a significant impact on the city's budget.
"We spent over $30,000 taking care of the citizens' needs, so to be able to get that reimbursed is wonderful for our community because money is tight," he said.
For all three local governing bodies, the reimbursed money must go back into the budget from where it was initially spent - road departments, public works and such. County Judge-Executive Rob Rothenburger said it would be used to prepare for the future.
"It's definitely going to help us. That 13 percent is 13 percent we don't have to pay for. That's probably somewhere between forty and fifth thousand dollars. That money can go help other programs in the road department," he said. "And it helps prepare for the upcoming winter. We'll purchase salt, equipment, and those kinds of things."
In a news release Beshear said the state is merely keeping a promise it made long ago.
"Back in January, we knew we had a huge and costly recovery effort ahead of us, and our cities and counties were justifiably concerned about how they would pay their share. But we made a promise that my administration would work with them to find a solution that would not crush their budgets."
At Thursday's Shelbyville City Council meeting: