ADAMS -- A concerted effort from town government and Administrator Jonathan Butler has led to a smaller Tropical Storm Irene bill than expected, Butler reported at Wednesday night's Selectmen's meeting.
With initial projections of more than a million dollars, the total cost of repairs and maintenance is, according to Butler, more in the neighborhood of $700,000 -- a figure that includes an estimated $500,000 to clean the Tophet Brook, a project planned before the storm.
"It was very much a group effort," Butler said at the meeting. "We definitely had a huge event last fall, but we're going to come out of it pretty good financially."
The price was shaved down by keeping continual contact with federal entities to bolster the total reimbursements the town will receive.
A number of damages, most notably on East Road and the Tophet Brook, added up to $793,000 for the town, before federal reimbursements.
Projected reimbursements are $364,000 from National Resources Conservation Service for the Pine Street Brook dredging and Tophet Brook slope, and $251,000 from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for general expenses and repairs to East Road at the Lime Street intersection.
"At this point, we are getting some real, final clarity on reimbursements from federal agencies," Butler said. "[Reimbursements] add up to total of $617,000, leaving the town with a balance to pay of $176,000.
The Tophet Brook project will be paid back by a five-year bond, and the town has yet to decide whether the Irene expenses will be paid for with free cash or a separate bond.
In addition to this balance total, the town still has to fund a new open-bottom culvert at the Charles Street bridge -- estimated between $20,000 and $40,000, including a FEMA reimbursement -- and the larger Tophet Brook cleaning, which will go out to bid sometime in July, Butler said.
Particularly in the case of the FEMA-funded East Road reimbursements, persistence paid off by earning the town additional funds.
"There's always a basis to argue for more," Butler said. "You just have to keep on it, sending emails and speaking to people."
Resident Jeffrey Lefebvre expressed gratitude to town government for their action.
"We were the first community to step right up to the plate, and the direction was really good," Lefebvre said.
In other business at the meeting, six of the eight easement documents necessary to begin work on the Ashu willticook Rail Trail extension to Lime Street were made official by signature by Selectmen.
"Two more easements pertaining to the rail trail still have to be executed by the property owners," Butler said. "It's just a matter of their attorneys taking a final glance and the town signing them as well."