Area leaders fight for Ike funds

February 12, 2009 4:15:04 PM PST
Houston-area city and county leaders are deciding how to share hundreds of millions in federal funds to help rebuild homes and infrastructure. However, not everyone is happy with the way the money is being divided.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Hurricane Ike left an indelible impression on all of southeast Texas. Months later, the mark is still there.

As we slowly recover from the mess, there are dollars trickling in, but figuring out how to spend them is creating its own whirlwind.

"I will tell you up front that I do have serious concerns," said Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia.

At a public hearing Thursday in front of the people who figured out how to divvy up the over $800 million in repair cash, almost every elected official had a problem with the formula. The Harris County commissioner called it fatally flawed.

"A lot of our Bay Area cities that are the ones that suffered the most?more damages to their homes, more total losses of homes, more infrastructure damage, and ended up with less dollars. It makes no sense," said Garcia.

The current formula uses FEMA statistics to divide the money. Of the $813 million available, 60% of the money is spent on housing and 40% on infrastructure.

The bulk of it goes to Houston, Harris County, Galveston, and Galveston County, which leaders from smaller communities don't like at all.

"We don't think they're getting enough money to the right places to the people that really need it the most," said Shore Acres Mayor Jayo Washington.

Of all of the elected officials to speak, Houston Mayor Bill White was the only one with charts and graphs to fight for every cent he thinks the city needs.

"People want to see the money spent quickly. I think it needs to be based on objective formulas, not on politics," said Mayor White.

The decision is not final as to how the money is to be divided up. That decision will be made at the next board meeting on Tuesday, February 17th.

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