State wants flood money back
By Emily Bialkowski
Houston County holds over $1.5 million in unspent flood money from 2007, and the state is ready to have it back.
Brian Pogodzinski, county engineer, told the county board that over $3 million was given to the county for projects related to reclaiming infrastructure lost in the torrent.
One particular project – the reconstruction of a portion of County Hwy. 22 – never got off the ground. “We’re not going to use this money. We’re just sitting on it at this point,” Pogodzinski said, adding that numerous factors contributed to the project’s inability to move forward.
“Some of it is because we had so many projects going on, some of it is because we still have ongoing projects and some of it has to do with a private landowner who would have had to give up some land,” Pogodzinski said.
“You mean we’re not going to be able to cash in that money,” Commissioner Jack Miller joked.
Comedy aside, the dollars have been racking up interest over the last three years, and the county will be able to keep that.
Pogodzinski admitted the state has been asking for the money back for awhile but remained lenient as the county waited for FEMA funding. “They just kind of recently put the pressure on us a little bit more,” he said.
The engineer said he supposes the state is looking at the floods in Duluth as a reason to catalyze the request.
“We can only push so hard,” he said.
The county board voted unanimously to send a check to the state as requested.
“Duluth needs it a lot more than we do,” Commissioner Justin Zmyewski said.
Miller added that he supposed the state would lend a hand again if the county experienced another disaster.