League City will pay a contractor up to $300,000 to help secure federal money to pay for some Hurricane Harvey expenses.
The city council voted 7-0 on Jan. 23 to pay Houston-based Ardurra Group to help pursue reimbursement for storm expenses.
The historic storm and flood cost city government an estimated $10 million in damage and expenses, Emergency Management Coordinator Ryan Edghill said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse much of the money already spent for debris removal and other immediate expenses related to the storm. That could be as much as $7 million, Edghill said.
Harvey also damaged city parks and facilities as well as equipment, staff members said. Ardurra’s job is to help find money to make repairs and replace what can’t be fixed, they said.
The company could also help the city find other money for flood mitigation projects, Edghill said.
FEMA could also reimburse the city part or all of the $300,000 going to Ardurra, although the city has no guarantee that would happen, Edghill said.
Cities in Galveston County with small staffs often hire expert consultants to help with such large tasks.
League City asked companies that specialize in getting FEMA reimbursements for proposals in October. Thirteen responded and city staff chose Ardurra as the best fit in qualifications and experience.
“We need the assistance of people who have been through this before,” City Manager John Baumgartner said. “Our experience from Ike would tell us it’s money well spent to help support the program.”
Councilman Keith Gross voted for the contract with Ardurra, but he had been skeptical at first, he said.
The $300,000 seemed excessive at first to Gross, he said.
What changed his mind was a clarification that the city wasn’t paying a full $300,000 to Ardurra but instead would pay up to that amount.
The charges will be the hourly wages of the experts as listed in the contract. A mitigation specialist gets $95 an hour while a disaster recovery specialist gets $125 an hour. A subject-matter expert gets $225 an hour.
Gross still has some qualms about the $300,000 figure, and wonders whether a contract for up to $30,000 would have been sufficient, he said.