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Stories Added - May 2010
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County joins legal battle for Round 2 Hurricane Ike funds
Polk County Enterprise
LIVINGSTON — Polk County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to join with other entities in the Deep East Texas Council of Governments to obtain assistance from legal council in obtaining from Round II Hurricane Ike Disaster Recovery Funds. According to DETCOG Executive Director Walter Diggles, over $96 million has been slated for used by DETCOG counties, but only San Jacinto County would be eligible for funds under current regulations. San Jacinto County is the only one of the 12 to be declared a low- to moderate-income county. The other impacted areas have portions of their jurisdiction designated as low- to moderateincome. The low-income designation for disaster recovery comes with different criteria than the federal free lunch program in public schools and other recent disaster recovery efforts, according to Pct. 4 Commissioner Tommy Overstreet. The latest data on fund distribution designates all of the Lower Rio Grande Valley as lowincome, giving them a higher priority for funds even though the area suffered far less damage from the 2008 hurricanes. County Judge John Thompson told commissioners Tuesday that attorneys have done a case study on the last two dozen disasters that prompted public disaster recovery projects. In all of those, states and government agencies were given the discretion on what projects to undertake. “For some reason (federal officials) decided Texas has an extra set of restriction. HUD is not being fair,” Thompson said. Under the agreement approved Tuesday, Polk County would be responsible for about $6,000 in fees to engage former Congressman Jim Turner and his son John Turner to act on DETCOG’s behalf in obtaining waivers of the low-moderate income (LMI) eligibility requirements for hurricane disaster recovery CDBG funds. The total estimated legal/ consultant fees are estimated at about $100,000. Of the $96 million allocated to DETCOG, about $6 million is designated for Polk County if LMI standards are revised. The City of Livingston could be eligible for about $789,000 in total CDBG awards; Corrigan $250,000; Onalaska $171,000 and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas $85,000.