Mon., September 28, 2009 12:38pm (EDT)

Flood Repair Likely To Further Strain State Budget
By Edgar Treiguts and John Sepulvado
Updated: 5 years ago

ATLANTA  —  
Damage from the recent floods is likely to further strain Georgia's budget. (photo courtsey <a rel="cc:attributionURL" href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tjc/3941397718/" style="font-size:9px;" target="_blank">Timothy J.</a> / <a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/"  style="font-size:9px;" target="_blank">CC BY 2.0</a>)
Damage from the recent floods is likely to further strain Georgia's budget. (photo courtsey Timothy J. / CC BY 2.0)
In the midst of a tight budget, state officials are trying to figure where money will come from to pay for flood cleanup and repairs to roadways, bridges and public property.

Fourteen North Georgia counties are approved to get federal money to help pay for repairs in their communities. The latest five counties were added late Monday: Crawford, Cherokee, DeKalb, Fulton, and Newton. They are added to the previous nine counties announced: Carroll, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cobb, Douglas, Gwinnett, Paulding, Stephens and Walker counties.

A top FEMA official tells GPB the agency is continuing damage assessments, and getting the projects written as fast as possible.

The cost of repair is 75% paid for by the federal government. The remaining quarter of the expense is covered by the state--and if need be--local governments.

But because the damage assessments have yet to be completed, it’s unclear what the total cost of last week’s flooding would be to the state and local governments.

John Wiles, the Republican State Senator from Kennesaw and head of the Cobb County legislative delegation, said the state will find those matching dollars.

"Yes, it’s a tight budget year, but when you do priorities, you always look out for the most important priority, and taking care of these issues and getting them resolved. I’m confident the legislature will do that," said Wilkes.

Georgia officials have already cut more than $900 million from the state budget to help close next year’s projected budget shortfall. Meanwhile, local government officials in flooded areas are concerned their municipalities might have to pay a larger share for the recovery than in previous years.

Bert Brantley. with the Governor Sonny Perdue's office, said because of the budget shortfall, it’s likely the state will have to ask locals to help shoulder some of the cost.

“Local governments are in the same boat the state is. Everybody’s feeling the pinch of this downturn, so we’ll do everything we can to get the projects done that need to be done...to get the dollars there. (We have to) just figure it out," Brantley said.

Brantley said it’s too early to determine just where state money will come from, in a constantly shrinking budget.