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Commissioners disagree on FEMA scope change

HOLMES COUNTY – The extension request submitted to FEMA by the Holmes County Board of County Commissioners has not yet been granted or denied according to County FEMA Coordinator Bob Steinbaugh when speaking to commissioners at their regular session meeting on June 3. The extension was requested as permitting may not be done in enough time to have all work complete on the project by the August 2 deadline. Should the work not be complete the county stands to lose the remaining $1.5 million of the $22.5 million awarded in 2013. In an attempt not to lose the funds, the board voted 3-2 to write up and submit a scope change to pay for equipment with the funds.  

Commissioners Earl Stafford and Brandon Newsom voted against this motion because it included the submission of the change. Newsom said he wanted to wait until next week to see if the projects either received permits or were designated no permit required before submitting the change to FEMA. “I’m sure doesn’t want to get another scope change to go along with the 15 others we have filed in the past eight years,” said Newsom. “We really need to wait and see what happens with permits because what do we do when we can proceed with the paving and then they approve the new scope? It is too confusing to have two things submitted at once.” Commissioner Clint Erickson countered by saying, “If we don’t go ahead and submit now, we stand the chance of losing everything if the permits are not approved. I would rather use the money for paying for the remaining balance on the equipment than lose the money altogether.” “Even if the permits are approved or not needed, will there still be enough time by then for mobilization and for the paving to be completed?, “said Erickson. Steinbaugh is expected to bring back information and answers when the board meets again in two weeks.  

Emergency Medical Service Director Steve Connell advised commissioners of a grant award from Florida Department of Health for a remounted ambulance. The 75/25 grant totaling $114,000 was accepted by the county with the remaining $38,000 to be requested in the next fiscal year’s budget. Commissioners tasked Connell with developing a record keeping system for fire related training, equipment and other expenses after approving $10,000 for equipment and training budget. Erickson says it’s about accountability. “Putting this much money into training and equipment, the county really needs a way to track where the funds are going to keep everything aboveboard.” said Erickson.  

The Holmes County Board of County Commissioners will meet again regular session at 9 a.m. on June 15.

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