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Groundbreaking for new Vt. psychiatric hospital - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Groundbreaking for new Vt. psychiatric hospital

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BERLIN, Vt. -

For the past year and a half, Gov. Peter Shumlin promised to rebuild the Vermont State Hospital "better than Irene found it." Tuesday, he broke ground on that promise.

"I have taken some heat over the past months for pushing this project without knowing how the dollars would flow," said Shumlin, D-Vermont.

After battling with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for dollars and cents, Shumlin announced the official price tag: $42.8 million for the five statewide mental health facilities, the most expensive being Berlin at $28.5 million. Of that $42.8 million, FEMA combined with state insurance will cover $30 million. The rest will come from taxpayers.

"Vermont taxpayers will pay for this entire rebuild between $12.5 and $15 million," Shumlin said.

Shumlin says no new taxes will be implemented and all funds will come from excess revenue appropriated by the Legislature or from the capital bill. It's one of the first announcements where FEMA and the state of Vermont stood side-by-side in an agreement.

"I want to be clear we don't agree on everything," Shumlin said. "FEMA has made a few boneheaded decisions that we are still appealing."

"They've been putting our feet to the fire, but with all your interests in mind," said Mark Landry, the Vt. FEMA coordinating officer.

While Landry cannot commit to funds until they are available, which could take up to 60 days; he did say he's confident Vermont will get this money.

"Those documents reflect a high level of confidence in the funding that the state of Vermont will receive based on eligible damages and eligible funding," Landry said.

Shumlin says he expects construction to start by the end of January; the facility should be open by March 2014.

The governor says he'll be making a similar announcement in March about money to pay for the Waterbury Office Complex.

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