Governor signs tornado relief bill into law
HB 5, sponsored by Rep. Richard Heath of Graves County, establishes the West Kentucky State Aid for Emergencies (SAFE) fund and allocates $200 million to help those affected by last month’s tornadoes.
Eligibility to receive financial support from the fund is limited to counties, cities, nonprofit or public utility providers, state agencies and school districts that were impacted by the storms.
$45 million of the fund has been earmarked:
- $30 million to the Kentucky Department of Education for school districts that have been impacted
- $15 million to the Department of Military Affairs, Division of Emergency Management, to be used for procuring temporary FEMA-eligible housing units.
The fund may be used for the advancement of monies to counties and cities experiencing strained revenues while awaiting reimbursement from federal emergency management assistance or insurance claims.
Reimbursement of the advancement will be determined by the Department for Local Government's state-local finance officer.
The legislation lists eligible expenses to support disaster and recovery relief, including but not limited to:
- Replacement or renovation of public buildings damaged by the storms and tornadoes;
- Reimbursement for services, personnel, and equipment provided during the response and recovery to communities impacted by the storms and tornadoes;
- Funding to counties, cities and publicly owned utilities for the costs of replacement or repair of publicly owned buildings and their contents due to the damage from the storms and tornadoes;
- Assistance to counties and cities for expenses related to planning efforts for rebuilding and recovering from the damage;
- Assistance to utilities serving Graves, Caldwell, Muhlenberg, and Hopkins Counties for resilient response and future risk reduction through the burying of utility wires that will enhance power reliability, reduce power loss, and lessen risk to human life; and
- Assistance to support disaster recovery and relief needs of local school districts, including financial support for school districts that will experience a default in bond payments and financial support to assist school districts with building needs.