The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) is proposing legislative rule revisions to 60CSR3, Voluntary Remediation and Redevelopment Rule, for the upcoming 2014 legislative session. The revisions include altering the cost recovery provisions for WVDEP oversight of voluntary remediation program projects. Agency funding for voluntary program projects is from reimbursement fees invoiced to the voluntary program participant for the number of hours worked, direct expenses incurred by agency personnel, and from an annual Federal Brownfields 128a grant. The funds received from the federal grant have been decreasing since 2008 and those funds are anticipated to decrease, at least through 2014.
WVDEP personnel report that individuals administering the voluntary programs are spending much more time than originally anticipated for tasks that cannot be invoiced to a voluntary program participant for activities such as monitoring land use covenants implemented for voluntary project sites where a Certificate of Completion has been issued; responding to Miss Utility excavation notifications; preliminary meetings to assist potential voluntary program participants into an approved voluntary agreement for a site; personnel training; and other administrative requirements. The WVDEP states that without increasing the cost recovery through the proposed regulatory revisions, the agency will be forced to decrease voluntary program functions.
Under the current voluntary regulations, recoverable costs incurred by the agency are billed against the application fee provided by the participant entering into one of the voluntary remediation programs. That provision is to be revised to provide that all recoverable costs shall be billed by separate invoice. The payment of all costs incurred by the WVDEP for voluntary remediation projects will be in excess of the application fee.
The proposed regulations provide that the recoverable costs invoiced to the voluntary program applicant is determined by the number of hours worked under the project agreement by each WVDEP employee multiplied by 3.5 times the hourly rate of each employee and then adding the direct expenses incurred by each such employee. This is in contrast to the current regulatory provision to use a 2.5 times multiplier for the hourly rate of the employee. The proposed regulation will include an additional cost provision. The Hourly Rate definition is being changed from solely the gross annual salary of the employee, to include fringe benefits paid to an employee plus the indirect cost rate calculated as a percentage of salary divided by 2080.
The multiplier stipulated in the current agreement for ongoing voluntary remediation projects with a signed agreement and specified work that are current at the time of the effective date of this rule change will not be altered for a period of up to three years after the rule change.
Potential legislative increases in the budget do not appear to be a consideration in the proposed legislative rule change.
This article was authored by William Chambers, Acacia Environmental Group LLC. For more information on the author see here.