Damage caused by Tropical Storm Lee in 2011 to rock formations and materials known as rip rap on the city flood control levee system may end up costing $100,000 or more.
The city finance committee on Wednesday discussed the findings made by flood control employees to rip rap in three sections along the levee.
"We have to make the repairs to maintain the integrity of the levee system," said William C. Wright, general manager of streets and parks and flood control manager.
The committee gave a positive recommendation for council to tonight authorize an engineering agreement to make repairs to the rip rap on the levee. Damage was found at the levee near Penn Street, Basin Street and along Lycoming Creek.
Wright said he submitted a request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for financial assistance but was "turned down."
He said he then resubmitted a request for financial assistance to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers but also was denied because the agency "doesn't have any money," Wright said.
The corps considered the problem to be maintenance and not a failure of the overall system, Wright said. It also didn't rise to their threshold, he added.
"That puts it back on the city," Wright said. "I don't think we've gotten a dime from the corps."
"The repair cost is separate from the cost to certify the levee being done in stages as part of an agreement," Councilman Jonathan Williamson said, wanting to clarify the issue for the general public.
"The entirety of the rip rap repair is entirely separate from the cost of certification," Councilwoman Liz Miele said.
The city budgeted $120,000 in 2012 for the certification of the levee with FEMA, spending $121,000 thus far on the project. "We're $1,000 over budget," Wright said.
"I don't know the actual cost of the rip rap repairs," he said, estimating it would be between $100,000 and $115,000. Engineers would have to prepare bid documents before more accurate estimates could be provided.
While Wright noted how the repairs are necessary, "there is no money in the general fund budget to do the repairs."
If the estimate is $100,000, that would be equivalent to one-eighth of a mill of tax, with 1 mill bringing in $880,000. Williamson urged Wright to continue to make contact with U.S. Rep. Thomas A. Marino, R-Cogan Station, and plead the case for the city.
In response, Mayor Gabriel J. Campana said in addition to the unfunded federal mandate to certify the levee, estimated at $330,000, the added repair cost is another blow before the budget season begins.
"I am continuing to do research and find ways cut costs and raise revenue," he said.