County to remove storm debris on private property; may be funded from reserves

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County to remove storm debris on private property; may be funded from reserves

At the Sept. 26, 2017 Board of County Commissioners regular meeting, Chairman Wayne Dukes moved the agenda item regarding storm debris to the first topic of discussion. Mr. Dukes explained the reason for the agenda modification was to save time, and to “get this thing moving right now.”

The intent was to vote on the county using money from the reserve fund, and to contact managers of Homeowner’s Associations (HOAs) as quickly as possible, since they will need to sign agreements to allow Hernando County to begin removing debris. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) does not normally reimburse for expenses incurred for removing debris on private property.

Dukes commented that during a recent meeting, he said, “If there is a big enough catastrophe, we would write the checks, and I think this qualifies.”

According to County Attorney Garth Coller, “This board, even without the FEMA designation has to go through a ‘Public Purpose Determination.’ Essentially … FEMA wants to second-guess any Public Purpose Determination on private property removal in order to be Federally reimbursable.”

Mr. Coller explained to the commissioners and the public that “there will have to be ‘Hold Harmless’ agreements, insurance requirements, and requests by the communities by their boards that we can enter onto private property to do the work.”

From Ridge Manor, Whispering Oaks resident, Daniel Leuszler spoke to the commissioners, expressing concerns regarding trees felled by the passage of Hurricane Irma. “We have very large oak trees that have come down, and it’s going to be a problem for us and our (Homeowner’s) Association to handle it.”

There was no estimated amount that will be used from the reserve fund as of the Sept. 26 meeting. All commissioners voted to move forward to contact the affected HOAs and begin removal of debris.