ELIZABETHTOWN - Essex County will get reimbursed for storm damage to its roads and bridges, but it'll probably have to borrow money to cover the repairs first.
The federal government has said the county qualifies for aid to rebuild infrastructure damaged both by Tropical Storm Irene and by previous flooding at the end of April, but the county has not received any reimbursement yet for repairs done after the spring's flooding, county Manager Dan Palmer said Tuesday morning.
"We were told the spring damage was still in the pipeline, (that) we would be reimbursed for that damage," Palmer said.
Tropical Storm Irene damaged at least 17 county-owned roads and 18 bridges, as well as some damage to the county fish hatchery and public health building, Palmer said. This doesn't count state and town-owned roads, some of which also suffered severe damage.
The county Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to create a fund to pay for damage from the storm. The money will come out of the county's fund balance for now, but Palmer said the county will have to borrow money later.
"I just feel like it's going to be a while before we get reimbursed," Palmer said. "It's going to affect all of our budgets."
Several supervisors said that the county and their towns are going to have to override the state's recently passed 2 percent cap on property tax hikes to pay for the storm damage.
"I got no money left in my highway (budget)," said Supervisor Dan Connell, D-Westport. "And we've got to plow roads (in) the winter."
"The bottom line is, you've got to have the roads repaired," said Supervisor Tom Scozzafava, R-Moriah. "You're not going to have much choice in this matter."
A 60 percent majority vote is required for a county or town board to override the tax cap.