Thursday November 29, 2012

LISA RATHKE

Associated Press

MONTPELIER -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency has determined the Vermont State Hospital is not eligible for 90 percent reimbursement to replace it because the building was damaged but not destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene last year.

But while Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding said he doesn’t know how much federal aid the state will get, he believes it will be significant. Spaulding said the FEMA determination came as a surprise. He said the state is exploring other avenues of funding from FEMA for the nearly $43 million project.

"I think we’re going to get 90 percent for pieces of it, but not all pieces of it," Spaulding said. "And overall what the percentage would be, I think it will be less than 90 percent but significant."

FEMA also determined that the state office complex in Waterbury was damaged and not destroyed.

Spaulding said the administration had been hopeful it would get 90 percent funding for the hospital but never anticipated that rate for the state office complex.

He told lawmakers that both projects are on track and are going to happen no matter what amount of federal assistance comes in.

The state expects to get a permit in the next few weeks for a new 25-bed facility in Berlin that is slated to open in January of 2014. Spaulding hopes the state will break ground on the project in December.

The state also expects to have residents in a temporary hospital in Morrisville within the next couple of weeks, Spaulding said. Plans for a temporary residential facility in Middlesex are also moving forward, despite an appeal by a neighbor, he said.

The plan for the state office complex will require demolition of some old buildings, while maintaining the historic and architecturally significant structures and adding a new energy efficient building. The complex opening is expected in January 2015.