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Sandy Costs Add Up in Montville

Officials planning to file for FEMA reimbursements, but the wait to receive money could take months.

Tropical Storm Sandy was not only inconvenient for many, but costly as well.

Montville officials are still working to compile the amounts for exactly how much the storm, which made landfall in New Jersey on Oct. 29, taking down trees, electric poles and wires, will ulitimately cost the township. But even without those numbers, officials are preparing for the storm to impact township finances.

"This certainly has impacted the town's budget," Mayor Tim Braden said. "We will be submitting our numbers to [the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)] and looking to recoup as much of that as possible."

The mayor said "we're keeping very accurate records" and noted several departments where costs have accumulated since the storm. Township Admnistrator Victor Canning said the costs for manpower, without question, would be the highest relating to storm damage. In neighboring community Kinnelon, as a result of the storm.

However, Canning said the township may see a benefit for being part of Morris County, which was declared a "disaster area" after Sandy hit. As a result, when the township does apply for a FEMA reimbursement, Canning said Montville could be eligible to receive a 75 percent reimbursement on every dollar spent. Still, the township could wait many months before even a penny is seen.

"One of the snafus that we have is the federal government doesn't work with the local government calendar," Canning said. "If we don't get that money within the first two months of next year, it doesn't help us with the current budget situation."

Canning said he has seen some municipalities wait more than 11 months to receive a reimbursement from FEMA. If money is received in 2013 from FEMA, it would go into the 2013 budget as surplus, which would not necessarily be a negative thing.

"It could go toward helping the overall surplus," Canning said.

However, the money could be of more help if the reimbursement was received this month. Otherwise, money may have to be transferred from one area of the budget to another, which is legally allowed in the month of November, to cover areas that incurred an additional expense. But Canning was worried there may not be many areas with a good amount of leftover money to transfer from.

"They have cut the budget to the bone here," he said. "I'm not with confidence to tell you that I can find the other numbers and transfer it."

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