October 20, 2014
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$920,000 in storm funds to buy city equipment

The city’s police, fire and public works departments are getting a sort of “windfall” totaling $920,000 as a result of the flood of March 2010, Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy, Mayor Scott Avedisian announced yesterday.

The money, which is coming from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will be used by each of the departments for the purchase of equipment not otherwise budgeted.

“It’s not profit, but it falls to the bottom line,” Avedisian said of the funds representing expenses relating to the three storms.

“Since there was no outlay of cash, these are not reimbursements.”

As the mayor explained, the city incurred more than $6 million in expenses relating to the storms that have already been paid by FEMA. That amount is for overtime costs, equipment and other expenses directly related to the storms.

So, how does the city end up with an additional $920,000?

Avedisian said in the accounting of storm expenses, the city also listed equipment use relating to the storm. The government considers this the same as if the city were renting the equipment since it falls outside of its customary usage, he explained.

Avedisian attributed the city’s ability to fully collect for expenses on the storms to the detailed record keeping of Fire Chief and Warwick Emergency Management Director Edmund Armstrong. Unlike other communities, Warwick did not retain outside consultants to manage the record keeping and accounting process. Avedisian said that alone probably saved the city $500,000.

Avedisian said the $920,000 could have been put to city reserves, in which case it would have shown up as part of the surplus. However, since the funds are representative of the use of all city equipment, he said the decision was made that the three departments should equally share it.

In a memo to the City Council, Avedisian says the Department of Public Works plans on acquiring three dump trucks and two four-wheel-drive vehicles with the money. The Fire Department plans on a new rescue, recorder and other emergency equipment and the Police Department is looking to acquire a quartet of four-wheel-drive vehicles, another animal control vehicle, and a new SWAT van and security upgrades.


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