Not all of county's Katrina expenses will be reimbursed

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett officials are seeking federal reimbursements for less than half of the money expended to help Hurricane Katrina evacuees.

After tallying up $450,558 in expenses incurred running an evacuee center in a former Wal-Mart after the hurricane devastated the Gulf Coast, only about $177,785 are eligible for reimbursements, officials said Tuesday.

"I was hoping it was more than that," Chairman Charles Bannister said.

The Board of Commissioners agreed that day to apply for the aid, through the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

According to Finance Director Lisa Johnsa, the reimbursement includes expenditures for equipment and supplies as well as a contract to repair the heating and air conditioning system at the center.

Agencies distributed about $14 million in emergency aid during a four-week run at the one-stop service center that closed Oct. 7, 2005.

In addition, the county is seeking reimbursement for the overtime of several Gwinnett County firefighters, who took trips to Dobbins Air Force Base to transport the medically fragile evacuees flown into the area.

Johnsa said the county was aware when it was tallying expenses that regular pay of employees would not be considered for reimbursement.

She said there is another possibility of the county regaining funds from overtime paid to sheriff's deputies who traveled to Jefferson Parrish to help with the efforts.

Because Sheriff Butch Conway was responding to a call from a sheriff's organization, the department may receive funds from another organization, she said.