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Panel clears path for FEMA to set up office for assistance to flood victims

Cattaraugus County legislators took several steps Wednesday to assist FEMA and pave the way to bring more help to flood victims in the hardest-hit areas of the county.

The move follows last week's federal approval for individual assistance to flood victims. The Legislature's Public Works Committee held an unscheduled meeting to approve a six-month renewable contract with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, allowing the agency to set up a temporary office at no cost in the Emergency Services Department in the basement of the County Center.

That committee controls the use of the county's buildings and grounds, and its actions need not be ratified by the full Legislature.

Later, the Legislature took immediate action on two last-minute resolutions, creating four temporary positions to track expenses, as well as provide clerical and administrative support in the recovery effort for up to 18 months during FEMA's stay in the county.

Two new temporary assistants to the director of emergency services will receive $13.86 per hour, or a total of $16,921, in the current budget year, to help Emergency Services Director Chris Baker carry out critical duties in the recovery effort. Reimbursement for most of that cost is expected, but contingency funds were authorized to cover the remaining $2,115.

The two new temporary accounting positions will help the county administrator track costs in the recovery effort. The accountant will be paid a salary of $16.99 per hour and the junior accountant will be paid $14.97 per hour. Some of the total cost of $19,509 will be reimbursed in party by the federal and state FEMA and SEMO aid, and supplemented by a $2,438 expenditure from the contingency fund.

The duties of the four workers had already been approved by the county Civil Service Commission.

Baker gave an update on the recovery efforts, describing steps leading up to the order to provide assistance to flood victims.

In other business, the Legislature voted to approve a law that immediately establishes a mortgage recording tax of 25 cents per $100, with revenue going to support the county's general fund. Legislators Bill Sprague, D-Yorkshire, and Charles Hebdon, D-Ellicottville, voted against it.

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