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Bay keeps $13 utility fee to pay FEMA
By Cassandra Favre
Oct 21, 2017, 00:50

The Bay St. Louis City Council on Tuesday approved a motion to extend the $13 fee on utility billings through Dec. 31 to satisfy a payment to FEMA for the Beach Blvd. sewer, drainage and lift station project.
Mayor Mike Favre told the council that MEMA owes the city about $168,000 for the Rutherford Pier project.
"We write the check back to them and they give it back to FEMA," Favre said.
The city owes FEMA about $238,925, he said, for the Beach Blvd. sewer, drainage and lift station project. That would leave the city owing $70,000, which is due by March 31, Favre said.
Favre said the second appeal to FEMA for engineering costs reimbursement was denied in December 2016.
According to the second appeal analysis from FEMA, "on Sept. 10, 2014, FEMA"s Region IV Regional Administrator denied the applicant's request for an additional $171,499 for engineering design costs. The RA noted that the $171,499 awarded for engineering fees is considerably more than the suggested percentage normally allowed for engineering and design services of above-average complexity."
In the first appeal, it was noted that the RA found that the fee was excessive because the "engineering design contract was negotiated as a percentage for the applicant's total construction cost estimate of $6,751,727 and not adjusted after the lower actual costs became known."
On Nov. 12, 2014, the city submitted a second appeal requesting the additional $171,499 for engineering fees.
"The applicant argues that the requested fee is eligible because the engineering design contract was completed before the joint project was created," the appeal analysis states.
"It argued that the scope of work included additional design services that were due to design changes and time spent coordinating numerous agencies and unforeseen circumstances. The applicant also argued that the fee should be eligible because the joint project saved money, as evidenced by over $600,000 in unused funds.
“The applicant's appeal submission included a memorandum from Compton Engineering justifying the fees as solely for the utilities project and stating they were reasonable, necessary and consistent with the required level of effort."
The second appeal was denied and the conclusion states, "the eligible engineering design service amount for this project is $108,574, as determined using FEMA Cost Curve B. The Regional Administrator will adjust Project Worksheet 954 accordingly and reduce the engineering fees by $62,924.93."
Favre told the council that the funds to make this payment were budgeted to be paid from the general fund.
However, Favre said that 50 percent of the work was utilities, so the amount due has be to be paid from the utility fund.
"That's why we're asking to keep the $13 on there two extra months to pay that half and we'll take the rest of the capital maintenance fund," Favre said.
The $13 was originally scheduled to come off residents' bills on Nov. 1.
The council also approved a $3 increase to the residential city sewer rate and a $.75 increase to the residential garbage rate in the 2017-2018 budget.
"Is Compton on the hook for this?" Councilman Doug Seal asked. "My understanding, from when it happened, they got working on a project digging up roads and streets and they changed the final project and they (FEMA) defunded part of the project. So what we owe here is a portion of what was defunded after the project was started and completed."
City attorney Trent Favre said he has not looked at the city's contract with Compton. He said he has looked at the appeals summaries.
"I don't know whether or not Compton, per their contract, is responsible without reading their contract," he said. Councilman Gary Knoblock said, "FEMA was adamant that Compton overpaid.
Trent Favre said the question he would have is whether the contract provided remedy and if the city directed the work.
The council approved a motion – 5 to 1 – to extend the $13 utility charge until Dec. 31. Knoblock voted 'no.' Councilman Gene Hoffman was not in attendance Tuesday.
The council also approved a motion to modify the residential sewer rate. The $3 increase will be removed and will be reinstated on Jan. 1, 2018.
The council also approved a motion authorizing the city attorney to review the contract with Compton Engineering to see if the city can recoup money overpaid on the project.
In other action:
• Mike Favre read a proclamation recognizing the month of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
• Knoblock made a motion to have the city's current insurance agent John Rosetti of Bentz Rosetti and Angelyn Zeringue of SouthGroup Insurance seek insurance proposals. The vote was tied. Knoblock, Councilman Jeffrey Reed and Seal voted ''yes.'' Councilmen Josh DeSalvo, Larry Smith and Buddy Zimmerman voted ''no.''
• The council approved a motion to consider de-fluoridating the city's water system and have a representative from the state meet with the council.
• The council recessed the meeting until Tues., Oct. 24 at 5 p.m. to discuss the final amendments to the 2016-2017 budget.


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