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State Officials To Make Final Irene Funding Request

AP File/Toby Talbot
A sign is seen in 2012 at the entrance to the State Office Complex in Waterbury.

State officials say Vermont has paid almost all of the expenses related to rebuilding the Waterbury state office complex that was severely damaged by Tropical Storm Irene.

With the legislature preparing to hear budget proposals and put together an appropriations bill, Deputy Secretary of Administration Michael Clasen said this is the last year the state will have to ask lawmakers for more money to fund the project.

The total rebuilding cost of the Waterbury state office complex is almost $225 million, Clasen said. With the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the state’s insurance paying about half of that, taxpayers need to take care of about $112 million.

“As we look to the upcoming legislative session, we anticipate having a capital needs request of that difference of about $10 million,” Clasen said.

If that money is granted, Clasen said he doesn’t think officials will have to request any more money from the legislature for Irene recovery efforts.

“With the current estimates, our hope and belief is that this will be the last time we’ll have to go for significant funding requests associated with Irene,” Clasen said.

But among the remaining costs of the storm is the continued rent payments for temporary offices housing state employees that used to work in the Waterbury complex.

So far, FEMA has paid 90 percent of the rent, with the state covering the rest. In January, the FEMA-estimated timeframe for repairs to the Waterbury complex will end, and the state will have to pay the full cost of rent.

According to Bill Laferriere, the director of the state’s property management services, that cost is about $300,000 monthly. With two more years before workers can move out of the rented spaces and into the new Waterbury complex, that cost is estimated to add up to $7.2 million.

The state still hopes to get FEMA assistance for the $4.5 million of Irene damage to the Roxbury Fish Hatchery, which remains closed.

Taylor was VPR's digital reporter from 2013 until 2017. After growing up in Vermont, he graduated with at BA in Journalism from Northeastern University in 2013.
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