Bellefonte announces appeal to federal agency for additional storm aid

mmorgan@centredaily.comFebruary 18, 2014 

— Bellefonte still may get funding for the summer storm that caused more than $275,000 in damage to Lamb Street.

It had originally been approved, but because Federal Emergency Management Agency workers could not get a camera under the street to see the storm drain damage, the funding was later denied.

Borough Manager Ralph Stewart announced at the Borough Council meeting Monday that they have appealed that ruling.

“Hopefully, down the road, we’ll be reimbursed for the damage that occurred there,” he said after the meeting.

A FEMA official told Stewart to proceed with the work because the appeals process could take a couple of years, he said. The borough was only paid about $50,000 for the work because that damage could be seen.

The issue arose after storms between June 26 and July 11 caused about $1.8 million in damage to local infrastructure. The bulk of the destruction in Centre County occurred in Bellefonte, State College and Howard, and Liberty, Gregg and Howard townships.

That figure also includes about $1 million in damage to the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority railroads.

Borough officials have already formally filed the appeal letter for the additional $228,339.

Council also approved a bank financing structure for the purchase of the National Guard Armory property.

The 20-year loan will be a not-to-exceed figure of $770,000 with a 2.85 percent interest rate for the first five years and a not-to-exceed rate of 5.5 percent for the remaining 15 years. Councilwoman Gay Dunne said they chose that loan because it had the lowest total interest rate, and the vote is contingent on the terms being met.

Stewart added that the loan payments should be made through the bulk water fund and the purchase likely won’t include any taxpayer dollars.

The motion passed 6-1 with Councilman Paul DeCusati casting the dissenting vote. In addition, Councilman Joe Beigle was absent and Council President Frank “Buddy” Halderman didn’t vote because he was sitting in for Mayor Tom Wilson, who also was absent.

DeCusati said he voted against the motion because the borough hasn’t announced final plans for the site and he felt the vote was premature.

Stewart has said potential plans include relocation of service departments such as police and emergency medical services. The borough also will try to rent out to a private developer part of the land near the intersection of Zion Road and Parkview Boulevard to get that portion back on the tax rolls and help finance the project.

Matt Morgan can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @MetroMattMorgan.

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