Council Approves Reducing Sandy Borrowing, Sees $53 Million Pricetag
Ocean County is picking up much of the township's debris removal expenses, but officials still see $53 million in estimated Hurricane Sandy costs.
Township Council approved on Tuesday, Dec. 4, a reduction in its authorized emergency spending for Hurricane Sandy since Ocean County is assuming most of the costs associated with debris removal.
The Township Council voted 7-0 to reduce its emergency authorization to $7.5 million from $18 million, a cut of $10.5 million, in what Brick's municipal government could borrow to cover costs associated with Hurricane Sandy. Township officials said the overall costs for Sandy, which devastated much of the Jersey Shore in late October, could reach $53 million for Brick's municipal government alone.
Ocean County retained Ashbritt Inc. to handle post-Hurricane Sandy cleanup efforts and the Township Council voted 7-0 to enter a shared services agreement with the county for debris removal. Township Administrator Scott Pezarres said prior to Tuesday night’s meeting that the agreement will have the county shouldering 75 percent of the cost for debris removal.
Pezarras said the Federal Emergency Management Administration will reimburse local governments for emergency costs, but Brick Township will need to borrow money short-term. FEMA typically reimburses local governments within a year after the emergency, he said.
Approval of the township's bills became a flashpoint between Republican Mayor Steve Acropolis and Council President John Ducey, a Democrat.
Ducey asked some pointed questions about some of the expenses that were associated with the clean-up after the storm, particularly those from Vecharello Contracting, which didn't have the sign-off from Department of Public Works officials.
Acropolis accused Ducey of turning the storm's aftermath into a "campaign for next year's mayorship." Acropolis said that Ducey had eight days to review the bills before the council meeting.
Ducey, who said he met with the township's finance officials on Monday, saw that the other bills had approvals from public works, that listed the equipment used, the hours of labor and a total.
Vecharello Contracting's bills were set aside until they could be verified by the department. Some Township Council members said they had seen the company's trucks assisting with work near Drum Point Road.