You don’t need the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to tell you that Utah’s winter packed a wallop. No matter how you measure it – 750 inches of snowfall or 30 inches of snow water equivalent in Utah’s mountains – all that water has to go somewhere, and it’s all downhill from there.
NOAA’s National Weather Service is now weaving a tale of upward trending temperatures leading to above-average run-off. The story’s climax: flooding; implying the need to prepare.
Governor Cox’s disaster declaration is a good start. It begins to free-up resources the Legislature provided for such situations. The table below shows just how much money is currently available, and what policymakers need to do to access it.
|Currently Budgeted/Appropriated||FY 2023||Would require legislative action?||Conditional on President, Gov. or local authority declaring a disaster?||Notes|
|General Fund Appropriation for Flood Mitigation||$5,000,000||No||No||Funding has been allocated to certain purposes and counties.|
|GFR – Disaster Recovery Fund (Fund 1334)||$7,117,500||No up to $5M||Yes||Funding could be used for state costs after there is a declared disaster by the Governor. Amounts above $5M would need to be reviewed by the Legislature.|
|GFR – Response, Recovery, and Post-disaster Mitigation Restricted Account (Fund 1249)||$10,600,000||No up to $5M||Yes||Funding is mainly from SB 33 passed in the 2023 General Session and for local costs. $600,000 is available immediately while the $10,000,000 is not technically available until May 3rd (special effective date). Amounts above $5M would need to be reviewed by the Legislature.|
|Development/Enhancement of emergency management capabilities (Fund 1334)||$750,000||No||No||Funding is mainly from SB 33 passed in the 2023 General Session and for local costs for DPS – Emergency Management capabilities. The Division prefers not use this, nevertheless it could be used. An option is the Legislature could appropriate an equivalent amount to them next year.|
And there’s more where that came from. With legislative action, appropriators could unlock amounts above the maximums listed above as well as appropriate additional amounts from reserves. Disaster-related reserve fund balances are shown in table 2, below.
|FY 2023||Would require legislative action?||Conditional on President, Gov. or local authority declaring a disaster?||Notes|
|Local Government Emergency Response Loan Fund (Fund 5515)||$7,127,900||Yes||No||Reflects balance in the fund. Would require statute change – Statute says that balance has to be at least $10M before any loans from this fund are made.|
|GFR – Disaster Recovery (Fund 1334)||$53,965,300||Yes||Yes||Reflects approximate balance (minus commitments) in the fund and would require an appropriation.|
Financially speaking, the state is flooded with options to hit the high water mark. Now, if we could only figure out what a cubit is.