Los Alamos County Council Chair Sara Scott at the Jan. 29 Council Meeting. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
During the County Manager’s Report at the Jan. 29 Los Alamos County Council meeting, County Manager Harry Burgess announced that Chair Sara Scott signed a disaster declaration Jan. 27 for the County with respect to the snowstorm that occurred Dec. 29, 2018 through Jan. 2.
Burgess said the purpose of a disaster declaration is when the expense related to a disaster, whether it be natural or technological-related, exceeds the available resources of the community.
Earlier in the evening under a consent agenda item, the Council approved a budget revision of $342,963 to restore the budget for the Traffic & Streets Division for snow and ice control. The County incurred some $477,050 in snow removal costs during the December and January snow storms. The total budget for snow and ice control for FY 2019 was $253,692.
The County estimates the budget needed for the remainder of winter at $113,563 assuming only average snowfall for the remainder of the winter season. The budget revision request noted that any new significant storms that involve hauling snow a longer distance than normal could have additional impacts because the existing snow piles and on-street snow storage are very limited
During his report, Burgess said that there were additional costs from the storm that were not in the budget revision request.
“The purpose of the disaster declaration is to potentially make available more monies to ultimately repair our roads. We’re obviously seeing a lot of potholes and other greater damage based on the recent round of events. In addition once declared, now that the Council Chair has signed it, the declaration goes to the Governor’s office. If the Governor concurs, it goes to FEMA for funds to become available and that would also assist the state in their repairs as NM 502 goes right through the middle of town and that would not be funded through the County efforts but instead through the state so it actually has a dual purpose in that respect.”
Burgess said he just wanted to describe the reason that step of declaring a disaster was taken.
“It was obviously a little delayed, however as many of us know the federal government was closed for that whole time period up until last week and we did not have the capability to submit such until they reopened so that was the purpose of that timing,” he said.