FEMA cites error, cuts $2.7 million from Atascadero's earthquake repair funds

Federal agency says the money set for recovery was mistakenly allocated; city says it will appeal

jhickey@thetribunenews.comJuly 10, 2013 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is pulling back $2.7 million of temporary relocation funding for Atascadero city offices damaged during the December 2003 San Simeon Earthquake, saying it was mistakenly allocated.

The city was awarded $26.3 million for debris removal, recovery efforts and construction after the magnitude-6.5 quake severely damaged the historic City Administration Building and other buildings, according to previous Tribune reports.

After the earthquake, city offices relocated to another building.

As recently as December, FEMA upheld its decision to give Atascadero relocation and repair funds.

But on Friday, the city was informed that FEMA had reversed two earlier decisions and was reducing the city’s total eligible funding by $2.7 million, according to a news release Wednesday from the city.

FEMA explained the reversal by citing a regulatory standard: “FEMA mistakenly applied this standard at the organizational level instead of at the individual level, which is the correct standard,” the news release said.

Mayor Pro Tem Brian Sturtevant said the city will appeal the decision.

“The city followed the proper channels and relied on the approval received from FEMA. It is unfortunate and frustrating that we are now seeing a reversal of this decision,” he said in the release.

No city officials were immediately available for comment Wednesday evening.

The grand reopening of the historic rotunda in the City Administration Building — closed since the earthquake — is scheduled for Aug. 20.

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