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This spring’s flooding has led North Little Rock to set up a $500,000 account to pay for expenses related to the flood damage as the city waits for the Federal Emergency Management Agency for partial reimbursement.

The North Little Rock City Council approved adjusting the general fund budget to establish the new account at its meeting Monday. The council also approved waiving the formal bid process to pay four different companies for their emergency work during the Arkansas River flooding.

All votes were 7-0. Council member Beth White was absent. Mayor Joe Smith was also absent, being out of state Monday. Council member Linda Robinson presided as acting mayor.

The $500,000 comes out of the city’s reserves, interim city Finance Director Stephanie Thomas said Monday. The reserves, or fund balance, have about $18 million available, she said.

“Instead of it being spread over different departments, we created a line item under one fund to make the accounting easier,” city Chief of Staff Danny Bradley said Monday. “We needed to put some money into that fund to have a source of revenue to pay those bills.”

The City Council approved four ordinances to pay for different services provided: Rain for Rent Arkansas, Conway, $134,467.02 for the removal of floodwaters at Dickey-Stephens Park, Verizon Arena and the Cypress Pump Station; Foundation Repair of Arkansas, Benton, $35,912.50 for stabilizing retaining walls at Dickey-Stephens Park; Jeffrey Sand Co., North Little Rock, $28,942.05 to purchase sand for sandbags; and Xylem Dewatering Solutions Inc., Chicago, $33,939.72 for pumping services to remove floodwaters.

Severe flooding began about May 27 in North Little Rock. The river crested at 29.71 feet June 5, the highest level in the Little Rock-North Little Rock area since 1945, according to weather records.

“There will be other costs that come out of that as we start to repair damage,” Bradley said. “We’re hoping that 75 percent of that money will be reimbursed by FEMA. This is part of the accounting process to keep up with costs to report to FEMA. It’s easier to have it in one place rather than spread out among different departments.”

Personnel expenses, such as overtime to city employees, aren’t included in the initial fund, according to the legislation. Those types of expenses will come from each department’s budget to pay their respective personnel, Bradley said.

“The council may have to come back late in the year to adjust those budgets,” he said. “The large expenditures coming from this will be charged to this particular [budget] line item.”

The city doesn’t have a final cost on the flood damage and other related expenses as yet, because there are repairs and other work still to come, Bradley said.

“We still have a lot of cleanup to do,” he said. “That’s going to take a while.”

Print Headline: North Little Rock flood account gets council’s OK

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