HOLMES COUNTY – Holmes County officials have cut nearly $8.5 million in production costs across a number of FEMA-funded projects. The savings will be put toward paving county additional roads.

One year after receiving the first $5 million installment of the $21.29 million in FEMA funds, Holmes County has completed 27 of 55 project worksheets that will lead to the paving of 30 miles of roads in the county. By using county employees to do in-kind work, the county has saved $8,326,686.77, according to FEMA Coordinator Joey Marsh.

The 27 project worksheets projected costs totaled $12,598,313.61, but by using county employees,  the total cost ended at $4,271,626.84.

“By doing in kind work we took having a contractor do the entire job out of the equation,” said Marsh. “We are able to save the county money to put towards the alternative procedures that way.”

Those savings will be put toward paving the roads when the county enters the alternative procedures portion of the project. Initially, the plan was to chip-seal the roads; however, officials said, that particular course does not hold up well and will most likely have to be redone in a couple of years.

The county received the funding under a the Public Assistance Alternative Procedures (PAAP). Historically, FEMA had disbursed funds to repair roads back to their preexisting condition following a declared disaster. In 2013, former President Barak Obama authorized alternative procedures of rendering public assistance after a disaster.

The goals for alternative procedures are to reduce the cost to provide funds, increase flexibility for administration, expedite disbursement and provide incentives for timely completion of projects covered by federal funds.

The county is hoping to be able to pave 30-50 miles of county roads to avoid having to go back and repave the roads, officials said. The amount of miles is contingent on the cost of each road individually. Chip-sealing will be an alternative in the scope of work applications, but as a last resort.

Marsh believes if the county is going to put forth that type of cost, it should be done the right way to begin with.

"If we are going to fix the roads, we need to pave them and be done," said Marsh. "If we do it right the first time, then we will save the county money in the long run."

An application has been submitted to request the next $5 million installment along with a request to begin the alternative procedures in August. Should FEMA deny the request for the procedures to begin in August 2018, the start date is set for August 2019.

County FEMA Coordinator Joey Marsh is confident the project will be completed on schedule as the project is ahead of his projected schedule given to the Board of County Commissioners last year.