Thibodeaux: ‘more sites than trailers available’

The Orange County government should soon receive the first of many payments from FEMA, County Judge Carl Thibodeaux said in commissioners’ court Monday. 

The first payment is expected at $7.1 million, Thibodeaux said.

“So far, we’ve had the money to pay the bills, so it hasn’t been a problem,” he said. “But obviously we’d rather spend their money than our own.”

The payment is based on pre-expenses already incurred by the county, in addition to anticipated expenses based on needs and research.

“It’s called ‘a push,’” he said. “We get it ahead of time. We haven’t spent $7 million yet, but we will spend $7 million-plus when all of this is over with. It’s going to be a lot more than that.”

Also, he said, during the holidays and into 2009, FEMA will have a new problem: increasing its output on trailers for areas hit by Hurricane Ike. 

“That’s their newest problem and they will have to come up with a way to solve that,” he said. “There are more sites than trailers available, which is not great, but it’s better than not having the trailers at all.”

In other business, Sheriff Mike White told commissioners his office would advertise for bids to build a new concrete parking area near the sheriff department’s training facility. Based on estimates of $100,000 for the concrete, he said he wanted to get the project approved on his own budget, before Sheriff-elect Keith Merritt took over in January.

He told commissioners, “That way it won’t look like he’s spending a lot of money right off the bat.”

Merritt said after the meeting he considered the project a priority, but it wasn’t at the top of his list.

Also Monday, commissioners accepted the election office’s results from the Nov. 4 ballot. Election Administrator Tina Leverett reported 17,509 early votes, and 12,281 on Election Day for 29,790 votes in all.