Flooding to Cost State Agencies Millions

Flooding to cost state agencies millions in overtime, damage to agencies, etc.

 

Columbia, SC (WLTX)- Various state agencies presented their current flood losses to lawmakers Monday at a Ways and Means Healthcare Subcommittee meeting. 

Lawmakers are using these meetings to learn of the numbers early, as they prepare for the start of a busy legislative session.

Chairman of the Subcommittee Rep. Murrell Smith said that they will be looking at two main things now as it relates to the budget. 

"One, we're going to have to deal with specifically what damage agencies sustained as a result of floods, or what additional costs came in," Smith said. "Then we have our normal appropriations process, so this is getting trying to get a jump on the flood related issues because we are still in a compressed time schedule during the year for our regular appropriations."

While helping the public recover from the flood, some state agencies were dealing with their own losses as well. 

The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Social Services both closed the Calhoun County offices due to flooding. Those offices, which still need thousands to refurnish and repair, won't open back up till 2016. They have employees operating out of other offices in the meantime. 

However, a larger portion of costs came from indirect losses like paying state employees overtime and operational costs during relief efforts. 

The Department of Social Services employees have been working 12-hour shifts in order to operate their DSNAP program, which will be offered in 12 more counties.

While the SNAP cards are federally funded, the operating costs are split 50/50, which means the cost of employees' overtime, booking a venue, and paying for security is a significant amount for the agency. 
 
The Department of Health and Environmental Control offered free tetanus vaccines to 6,000 people after the flood, which added up to about $100,000 loss. 

"We wanted to make it accessible," DHEC Director Catherine Heigel said. 

Department of Mental Health says a portion of their revenue was lost with the $800,000 that was not billed for clinical services during that flood time. 

DMH also had "go teams" of clinical professionals go down to assist efforts in counties like Sumter, Berkeley and Wacamaw. 

The costs are still adding up, as the work continues. While the departments did not submit their final reports to lawmakers, they expect the numbers to rise as they continue to deal with the aftermath of the flood. 

 


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