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SF City Council Debates Federal Aid

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For the last several weeks, clean-up crews have been all over the city of Sioux Falls picking up the debris from April's ice storm.

“The work is still ongoing and we're getting bills in everyday from the work we've done over the last 5 or 6 weeks and we do know it’s going to be several million dollars," said City Emergency Manager, Regan Smith

The storm lasted three days and caused several million dollars’ worth of damage, but with the help of federal aid, the bill could be much lower.

“It's likely we could be receiving funds as early as this fall,” said Smith.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been in Sioux Falls the last couple of weeks, to determine what portions of the clean-up effort are eligible for reimbursement.

While the city has applied for assistance, some city council members question whether the storm damage was extensive enough to merit the funding.

“I look at the process of receiving FEMA money as an opportunity for the city, in at least one instance, to finally take off the training wheels," said Sioux Falls City Council member, Greg Jamison.

Jamison believes Sioux Falls is a strong enough city that it can cover the cleanup costs without federal aid and that we should allow other harder hit areas, like Oklahoma, to utilize the government's funding.

"Here's our chance to kind of push them back and say OK, we got this one. You guys go do other things. And maybe if everyone around the country catches on with that same mentality, our federal government would heal itself,” said Jamison.

Still, other council members say we deserve to accept the funds.

"I do believe, as a representative of Sioux Falls, if we qualify for a program we should take that money and put it back into our reserves, said Sioux Falls City Council Chairman, Jim Entenman.

Entenman said if the city doesn't accept the assistance, the funding will come out the city's reserves, taking away money that could be used elsewhere.

“It's like buying an insurance policy. You buy an insurance policy hoping that you never have to use it and that’s the same way we are here with the dollars we put into our reserves," said Entenman.

Both council members said the city council needs to figure out exactly how much the clean-up effort is going to cost before they can make a decision on whether to accept the aid. Sioux Falls officials said it could be just a matter of weeks before they get those figures in.

If the city were to accept the federal assistance, FEMA would cover up to 75 percent of the eligible cleanup costs. The remainder would be paid for by the state and a portion by the city.

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