WAHOO – A disaster fund is now a part of the Saunders County budget.
During its meeting Tuesday morning, the Board of Supervisors approved adding the line item the current fiscal year’s budget and taking a $500,000 loan from the inheritance fund to seed it.
Saunders County Clerk Patti Lindgren told the board there has already been about $406,000 in claims complied for road and other repairs following the mid-March flooding.
The new disaster fund will by dipped into to pay those claims and others that come in as repair work continues. But, it is expected reimbursement will be made once federal and state emergency funds are released.
Supervisor Scott Sukstorf questioned why set up a new fund in the budget, if there was money available in the roads department budget.
Lindgren explained that there needs to be very detailed tracking of the disaster repair dollars spent and those received. She said having a separate account makes it easier to track.
“This is just a clean of doing it,” she said.
The county clerk added that there are also guidelines to federal funding when it comes to audits.
The roads department already had some federal dollars in its budget fund. With what is expected from FEMA for the flood repairs, federal monies should be above $750,000.
That amount of federal dollars triggers a second audit. A separate account to deal strictly with federal and state money as it flows in and out will be better for audit purposes, Lindgren added.
The inheritance fund also seemed to be the best account to borrow dollars from. This account, financed by inheritance taxes, has been set aside by the county in past years and holds about a $2 million reserve.
Lindgren said in past year the supervisors have used these reserve funds to get additional projects done in the roads department. Last year, it was used to help pay for heating and cooling improvements at the courthouse.
The “borrowed” money to set up the new disaster fund will eventually be put back into the inheritance fund.
Lindgren added that she believes this is the first time the county has had to set up a special disaster fund. She said past floods have caused damage, but not to the extent of the March disaster.