Danbury expects to get back about 75 percent of the money it paid to clean up city streets after Storm Alfred, and it expects to see half of that money sometime in May. The second half could come in October.
"It's an expedited process," said David St. Hilaire. He said Danbury paid about $2 million so far, and the state could pay 50 percent of that, or about $1 million in May. This is still the early part of the FEMA review of the storm payments, but half the money comes quickly, St. Hilaire said, so towns don't have to borrow money to cover their out-of-pocket costs.
Still hanging above Danbury's head is the complete $3.8 million bill Danbury was handed. So far, Danbury officials, including Director Paul Estefan, say they don't have enough evidence they owe the $3.8 million to pay it.
St. Hilaire said the debate focuses on the pile of mulch created by the branches, sticks and twigs that were collected in November and early December after the snow storm, Storm Alfred, hit Danbury in late October.
St. Hilarie and Estefan said both the city and the federal contractors doing the work agree the pile measured about 17,877.35 cubic yards in size.
After that, all agreement ends.
Danbury says if it is 17,000 cubic yards, the city owes $1,948,631.15, plus the cost of shipping it to JF Walsh Inc., in Newtown. Trucking it to Newtown cost another $111,733.44. Add the two together, and Danbury paid so far $2,060,364.59.
There are other items that Danbury will pay for, including removing "hangers," which were branches left hanging in trees that had to be removed for safety reasons. AshBritt removed 3,000 of those, St. Hilaire said.
"I'm not releasing any more money until they show me where I made a mistake," said Estefan, who watched the clean-up from the time the snow fell to the time it ended. "City employees were with them from Day 1 to the last days."
Estefan said that was critical, because when FEMA audits the clean-up, and both Estefan and St. Hilaire said FEMA will audit, Danbury workers can certify that every branch was on a Danbury city road or in a Danbury right of way.
Estefan said if Danbury couldn't prove that, FEMA would start subtracting money from what Danbury would otherwise receive.
"If FEMA found us on a federal highway or state road, they'd deduct it from the total," Estefan said.
Both Estefan and St. Hilaire said the final total Danbury pays will likely be more than the $2 million paid so far, and less than the $3.8 million billed.
"We need more details," said Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton. "We're going to have to reach some agreement with them."