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By Dave Rogers
For the Record 

Covid, flood control grants hit OC accounts


Last updated 5/28/2020 at 11:17am

Money. Money. Money.

Orange County Auditor Pennee Schmitt had a lot of it to talk about at Tuesday’s bi-weekly meeting of the County Commissioners’ Court.

First, she introduced a special budget to park $2.27 million of no-match COVID-19 mitigation grants from the Federal Emergency Management Administration.

Then she introduced another special budget for a $631,000 grant created in 2006 by Congress and just delivered to the county for the first time.

But, as happens every meeting, the county had to pay some bills, too.

Schmitt’s good news was that the tab for May 19 was only $42,500. But the Full Meal Deal came on the May 26 tab, which included $549,000 in checks leaving the Road and Bridge budget and a total bill payment of $850,000.

The FEMA grant was mentioned by County Judge John Gothia at commissioners’ last meeting, held May 12.

He said that would be used to pay for improvements to county buildings designed to protect employees and visitors from airborne infectious diseases, such as COVID-19.

Schmitt explained that only 20 percent of the big FEMA award – about $500,000 – had been received because the amount was a 100% reimbursement and that’s all the receipts the county had sent off so far.

“Once these expenses come up, we can submit them up to $2.27 million,” she said.

“It’s great to have that,” Gothia said, “because we’re not having to use our own funds.”

The grant derived from the 2006 Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act is money “can be used for only a few things and one of them is flood mitigation,” Gothia said.

“We’re using it to help with drainage.”

The special budget set up by Schmitt transfers the $631,000 to the county budget for equipment over $5,000.

Three primary purchases, the judge said, will be a large Gradall hydraulic excavator, a mini excavator to dig in tight spaces and a boom mower to keep ditches clean.

Other items addressed at the meeting included establishing voting locations for the July 14 state primary runoff election.

Four early voting locations will be open June 29-July 10 at Orange Public Library (Precinct 1), Orange County Expo Center (Precinct 2), Orange County Airport (Precinct 3) and Vidor’s Raymond Gould Center (Precinct 4).

Those voting early can mark ballots at any of the four, but those waiting until Election Day (July 14) must vote at the location above in their county precinct.

The county accepted a state grant to pay for an extra week of early voting (runoff elections have only one week for early voting) because of COVID-19 and the commissioners approved applying for the Governor’s Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding grant.

The county approved a preliminary plat for a new subdivision in the northwest corner of the county. Brittington Estates on Yarpal Lane will be comprised of 23 lots ranging from 1 to 2.5 acres and will feature a 3.5-acre detention pond for drainage.


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