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Kentucky Association of Counties


County Champion


House Committee passes West Kentucky tornado relief package

By Shellie Hampton, Director of Government Affairs
Legislation passed the House Appropriations and Revenue committee Monday afternoon in response to the tornadoes that ravaged western Kentucky in December. A floor vote is expected this afternoon.

The House and Senate both filed identical bills that will make relief funding available to counties, cities, school districts, non-profit service providers and public utility service providers.

House Bill 5, sponsored by Rep. Richard Heath of Graves County, establishes the West Kentucky State Aid for Emergencies (SAFE) fund and earmarks $200 million to help those affected by multiple tornadoes last month. As of yesterday, $45 million had been earmarked: $30 million will be made available to schools for transportation costs, wraparound services for students and facilities repairs, and $15 million will be assigned to the Department for Military Affairs for procuring temporary FEMA housing. 

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 cities, counties 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 cities and counties for expenses related to planning efforts for rebuilding and recovering from the damage.

The legislation also includes assistance to utilities serving Graves and Hopkins counties for resilient response and future risk reduction and assistance to support disaster recovery and relief needs of local school districts.  

The bill prohibits any public advertisements or solicitation of contributions from the general public that could potentially impact the fundraising efforts of not-for-profit disaster relief agencies.


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