Des Plaines will get zero dollars in public assistance reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the estimated $2 million in expenses incurred by the city in response to the April flooding, officials said this week.
That's because Cook County wasn't eligible for the funding. It was the only one of the 40 affected Illinois counties that applied for the federal money not to get approval. Locally, the federal disaster declaration covers DuPage, Kendall, Lake and McHenry counties, where local governments can recoup as much as 75 percent of their flooding expenses.
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Gov. Pat Quinn's office said expenses in Cook County reached $9.3 million, short of the $17.9 million in damage needed for the county to qualify for assistance. Counties have to show $3.45 in damage per person to get help. The governor's office has pledged to keep working to try to get federal help for Cook County.
Des Plaines was among the hardest hit areas by the April 17 storm and ensuing flooding, which affected nearly 2,000 properties in the city. Des Plaines received a refund after the 2008 flood because Cook County met the threshold that year, city Finance Director Dorothy Wisniewski said.
"For Des Plaines, it was worse (than the 2008 flooding), but you have to look at all of Cook County. It's not just the city that gets approved," Wisniewski said.
Individual homeowners and businesses may still qualify for federal aid, but the city is on its own.
Though overall personnel costs and final invoices are still being tallied, the total expense to Des Plaines should be around $2 million. The money to cover that will come out of the city's general fund reserve, which had a balance of around $23 million on Dec. 31, Wisniewski said.
"We are talking about serious cash," Des Plaines Mayor Matthew Bogusz told the city council this week.
The city has enough money saved up so that it didn't need to take out a short-term loan to cover flooding expenses, as it has in the past when reserves were low, he said.
"As we head into this budget, it's going to be incredibly important that we continue to maintain adequate reserves and work to pay down our debt," he said. "If we don't, we could be in a position where we don't have the money in the bank to do these kinds of flood responses."