Among the 10 resolutions that were passed by members of Lawrence Township Council at their meeting last week (Dec. 4) was one authorizing an emergency appropriation of $17,500 to cover additional costs incurred by the township as a result of its response to Hurricane Sandy and its subsequent cleanup of storm debris.
The $17,500 is related to police department overtime, and raises the township’s total for storm-related expenses to $145,000, Township Manager Richard Krawczun explained.
“The $145,000 may still go up and approach $200,000,” he advised council members.
A $127,500 emergency appropriation was previously approved by council on Nov. 8, with the bulk of that money - $82,500 – earmarked for debris removal and disposal, and the remainder going toward police and public works department overtime.
The township anticipates receiving a “base reimbursement” of 75 percent from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Krawczun said, adding that some costs incurred within the first 30 days of Hurricane Sandy may be eligible for 100 percent reimbursement.
Lawrence Township is “lucky” in comparison to other municipalities in New Jersey, even ones elsewhere in Mercer County, that experienced far worse from Hurricane Sandy, Krawczun said.
“There are towns in Mercer County that have entered into very substantial contracts for the cost of their cleanup,” he said.
“I think it’s important to recognize that we’ve been doing our cleanup with our own staff. They are in fact working additional hours each day. We are grinding at the compost facility until 8 p.m. each evening, weather permitting, to clear the debris that has been collected from this storm but as well as from Hurricane Irene that still remains. We only needed to award one emergency contract for assistance with tree clearing,” he said.
Township public works staff have been working hard to remove storm debris, but there’s so much of it out there that some streets in town, as of last week, had not even received a first pass, Krawczun said. But he promised that all streets would be visited by clean-up crews.
“We are continuing the clean-up effort,” he said. “We will be collecting everyone.”