SUNDANCE (WNE) — The City of Sundance has confirmation that it will need to pay back a federal contribution made by FEMA to relocate the Cole Water Tank when it was found to be sliding off the hill in 2012. The repayment is deemed necessary because the city did not perform a National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) study on the land to which the tank was moved.
Mayor Paul Brooks and Clerk Treasurer Kathy Lenz were informed of this conclusion over lunch with Wyoming Homeland Security Director Lynn Budd and Deputy Director Leland Christensen last week.
“They want it repaid. The number they used was $225,000 and they want a repayment plan that comes to around $400 a household over eight years,” said Brooks.
The city had hoped to avoid the repayment, first appealing to FEMA and then asking the State Lands and Investments Board for assistance. These attempts all proved unsuccessful, though both Lenz and Brooks maintain there is a certain unfairness in the decision.
The core of the issue, said Brooks, is that the city believed a NEPA study was only required for public lands, not the private property that was ultimately chosen for the tank’s new site.
“We thought we were going to end up on Forest Service [land] and at that point we felt we needed a NEPA. We did not believe we needed a NEPA to go on private land,” said Brooks.
At no point did the state FEMA office correct this mistake, he said.