City follows mandate, sets up FEMA fund
Upper Arlington City Council recently established a new fund to account for disaster relief money granted by the federal government.
Last summer, Upper Arlington spent approximately $175,000, mostly in employee overtime, to clean up from a "derecho" windstorm, which left thousands across central Ohio without power for days.
Of that, $131,000 was reimbursed by FEMA, and another $24,000 was paid to the city through an Ohio disaster relief program.
In an effort to ensure FEMA funds are properly used and accounted for, the Ohio Auditor's Office recently mandated that municipalities create a "FEMA fund."
Council did just that Feb. 11, unanimously passing a measure to establish a local FEMA fund.
"All funds received from FEMA must be deposited into a FEMA fund," Upper Arlington Finance Director Cathe Armstrong said. "This would make sense if you hadn't already spent the money and you wanted to keep it separate."
Armstrong noted the city immediately assumed costs related to the windstorm to expedite the clean-up efforts and to make sure local traffic signals and streetlights were functioning properly.
The city sought disaster relief funds from both the federal government and state after overtime was paid to local workers.
"In this case, we asked for reimbursement of monies already spent during the summer storm," she said. "We still had to create the fund, deposit the check and then 'bill' ourselves so we can take the money out of the fund and put it back in the general fund."