Two weeks after the most devastating storm to hit Fairfield in recent memory passed through the area, town officials began grappling with the financial impact let in Hurricane Sandy's wake.
First Selectman Michael Tetreau and Chief of Staff and Fiscal Officer Robert Mayer gave the Board of Finance Tuesday an overview of the effort to assess the storm's damage. Hurricane Sandy's official cost to the town of Fairfield has not been determined yet.
"This was bigger than anything that has hit this town in my lifetime," Tetreau said. "I can't think of another event that required such effort from all the town departments."
Tetreau and the town's department heads are working to collect data, photos, and documentation of the destruction in order to be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
"We want to make sure we look for every dollar we can," the First Selectman said.
According to officials, FEMA's aid will come in the form of reimbursement, so the town will have to pay initial costs out of its current fiscal year budget. Town Controller Caitlin Bosse said FEMA reimbursement for Tropical Storm Irene was not paid to the town until the fiscal year following the storm.
Members of the Board of Finance voiced concern that there should be a point person handling communications with FEMA.
"This seems to be an area rife for things to fall through the cracks," Finance Board member James Walsh said.
The board also advised that Tetreau and Mayer look into hiring a disaster recovery expert to maximize returns from FEMA. According to Mayer, hiring such an expert would be reimbursed by the federal agency.
Other questions from the board regarded how property values for homes destroyed on Fairfield Beach Road would be handled; how the loss of those homes would affect the Grand List; and whether overtime had been calculated for emergency and Public Works personnel.
According to Walsh, residents whose homes were badly damaged by Sandy can appeal to the Board of Assessment Appeals come February.
Tetreau told the board that he and other staff members are still working on answers to the other questions. Finance Board Chairman Tom Flynn requested the board hear a financial postmortem within the next few meetings.