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West U. receives first reimbursement from FEMA

June 18, 2018 GMT

City Manager Chris Peifer reported during the West University Place city council meeting on Monday, June 11, that the city received its first reimbursement of public assistance funds that were used for Hurricane Harvey clean up.

Peifer noted that West University Place was one of the first areas to apply for and to receive the funds back.

“We spent roughly $65,000 and we got about $59,000 back,” Peifer said.

Peifer said that West University Place spent a total about $600,000 out of its reserves and he expects to get more reimbursements in the next two to four weeks.

The city also received $37,000 from their insurance carrier for insurance claims for the animal control center that went under water, and for a excavating backhoe.

“Getting our funds back, if you can imagine, when we had Ike, we finally closed out on that about four months ago, so we are moving along much more quickly than with previous major events,” Peifer said.

Peifer expects to receive very close to all $600,000.

Peifer also spoke about the city’s plans for hazard mitigation.

These include improvements to street drainage, the potential for regional detention on city owned property, Buffalo Speedway enhanced drainage and a flood control wall around the wastewater plant that sits in the floodplain.

“We already had two [drainage] projects in process. We had some preliminary designs done,” Peifer said.

“These are all efforts to make our tomorrows better,” Peifer said.

A resident asked the council if it was possible to see what was just previously discussed in writing.

“I’d like to see something organized. I am on the receiving end of this information, and I am not able to keep up with it as well as if I were to see it in writing. Can you come back and put out, here were the challenges, here is what we did, here is how we are recovering. What does this mean to us? This was our money,” he said.

The council also voted unanimously to award a contract to Strategic Government Resources (SGR) to search for the city’s next city manager. Peifer plans to retire in early 2019.

The meeting was originally supposed to been a combined public hearing with the Zoning and Planning Commission to discuss AT&T’s operations, but AT&T canceled the public hearing.