Road To Recovery
Bills piling up for West Pittston: Contractors seek $2.5 million
Leaders accused the Federal Emergency Management Agency of continually delaying the process, which forced the borough to seek financing elsewhere.
Leaders on Thursday night revealed a so-called disappointing back-and-forth with FEMA. President of Council Barry Hosier said FEMA had told borough administrators in June the agency would fully fund the debris removal and that the check would arrive in a few weeks.
An army of contractors moved tons of flood soaked possessions out of the town. Mike Cavage, owner of Pioneer Construction, told Eyewitness News some of those companies who rushed to West Pittston's aid are still owed $400,000.
"What we're in right now is we have contractors with large bills," said Cavage. "And they're not very big companies and they're in trouble."
Councilman Brian Thornton said he was concerned if West Pittson defaults on the $2.5 million loan that is expected to be funneled through PennDOT, the cost may have to be passed onto taxpayers. He quickly estimated that could run the average property owner an extra $1,000 for next year. The loan will be due, in full, on December 31.
"I'm just scared to death if FEMA doesn't come forward with the money to pay this loan by December 31 and we're left holding the bag on this loan and we have to pay it back, I wasn't comfortable taking on that risk. It is a roll of the dice," said Thornton.
Other council members were more optimistic the payment due from FEMA would receive the necessary congressional approval for allocation. But there's little room or time left for error. Council President Barry Hosier said, "If there's any slippage whatsoever, West Pittston has a real good possibility of going bankrupt."