By SUNNY LOCKWOOD
Utica Power Authority's Board of Directors unanimously voted last night to accept the final reimbursement check for expenses incurred during the Darby Fire of 2001.
UPA General Manager Vern Pyle told the board that the final reimbursement check from the state Office of Emergency Services will be $763,240.
It has been 18 months since the Darby Fire destroyed much of UPA's water-delivery system of flumes and canals, and Gov. Gray Davis declared Calaveras to be in a state of emergency because of the water crisis.
Because of that emergency declaration, UPA and other entities such as Calaveras County Water District and the City of Angels Camp, which scrambled to find ways of supplying temporary, emergency water to the region, could receive up to 75 percent reimbursement from the state OES for their fire-related expenses.
Pyle told the UPA board last night that this final check will bring the total reimbursement UPA has received to about $3.5 million, including money from the OES and the insurance company that covered the flumes.
He said the total fire cost to UPA was about $4 million.
Board members thanked UPA staff for documenting the expenses precisely enough to receive this level of reimbursement.
"It's incredible that we're getting it all," said board member Larry Thompson.
UPA board member Duane Oneto called the reimbursement amount "mind boggling."
Board Chairwoman Debbie Ponte, who is also the mayor of Angels Camp, praised the work UPA staff members did in documenting expenses associated with the fire collecting receipts and filling out OES paper work in order to apply for the reimbursements.
Once the certification papers are sent in, UPA will receive the $763,240 check. What will it do with the money?
Both Thompson and Ponte said the first $400,000 will replenish reserve funds drained by the fire. After that, it's up to the board to determine how to spend or save the funds.
Ponte said she'd like to establish some reserves for much-needed maintenance.