o Mississippi Emergency Management Agency supported an application for mitigation measures undertaken at three casinos to serve as non-federal matching funds (Global Match) under the Mitigation Reconstruction Pilot Program. The Mississippi Recovery Office (MSRO) denied the application based on ineligibility due to: 1) one structure being located in a Coastal High Hazard (V Zone); 2) one structure being subject to change of ownership post-event; and 3) insufficient data on the third structure.
• Reason for Denial
o Region IV upheld the MSRO’s denial on the same grounds as those rendered by the MSRO, for Hard Rock Casino (sited in a V Zone), and for Island View Casino (change of ownership post-event).
o 44 CFR 206.434 Eligibility; 44 CFR 206.440 Appeals, HMGP Reconstruction Grant Pilot for Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma (HMGP Pilot Program)
o The applicant filed a second appeal through Region IV asking for a review of the justification and rationale originally set forth in the first appeal. They stated that FEMA’s Reconstruction Pilot Manual discussed reconstruction in the V-Zones, that projects in the V-Zone in Louisiana were funded, and that the casino was functionally dependent on the V-Zone location based on regulations governing the location of casinos. They also contended that the change in ownership was immaterial as the reconstructed structure was built to replace two destroyed during the storm event.
• FEMA Findings
o FEMA HQ supported Region IV’s decision to deny the 1st appeal, however they noted that a policy clarification resulted in the first structure being eligible.
o Rationale: FEMA HQ determined that a policy clarification effective after the Region’s denial provides for the eligibility of the first structure, Hard Rock Casino, because it was damaged less than 90%. HQ also identified issues with the calculations of the Global Match, specifically the requirement that Duplication of Benefits (DOB) be calculated and taken into account, and that the Disaster Specific Guidance Limited Waiver to Allow Retroactive Funding does not exempt projects from programmatic requirements such as DOB consideration, as argued by the subapplicant. Additional data needs were identified and HQ offered technical support to explore HMPG match opportunities.
o Reference(s): 44 CFR 206.440 Appeals; 44 CFR 206.434 Eligibility, HMGP Pilot Program; Policy Clarification of July 8, 2009 – HMGP Pilot Reconstruction Projects in V-zones.