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Reimbursement uncertain for $2 million in COVID-19 expenditures

Reimbursement uncertain for $2 million in COVID-19 expenditures
Posted at 11:05 AM, Jan 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 12:05:56-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales and other local leaders have worked tirelessly for 10 months to protect the public from COVID-19.

“There is no such thing as a COVID budget," Canales said. "There is only our opportunity to do everything we can to save lives."

While not technically a budget, there is an allotment of federal funding through the Coronavirus Relief Fund that reimburses Nueces County for the expenses it encounters in the fight against COVID-19.

Financial figures KRIS 6 Investigates was able to obtain from the county put that allocation at $4,645,665.

The county numbers also say that $6,666,961.46 has been spent addressing the novel coronavirus.

That leaves $2,021,296.46 not currently in line for reimbursement, but Canales is confident that FEMA and other agencies will will come through for the county.

"With the new stimulus bill on the horizon, I feel certain that Nueces County will be made whole for the justifiable expenses that they’ve made," she said.

Commissioners Joe Gonzalez and Robert Hernandez aren't as confident that those reimbursements are on the way.

They both said that, in the case of FEMA, Nueces County is still waiting on funding from that agency for expenses related to Hurricane Harvey from 2017.

At last week's commissioner's court meeting, Commissioner Brent Chesney asked that a presentation on the current state of the county's accounting be added to an upcoming meeting.

He said that he just wants to get information from that presentation that he expects will come next month.

“The county judge has consistently reassured us that everything she is spending during this pandemic is eligible for reimbursement," Chesney said. "I have no reason to believe she’s not accurate on that. But obviously it would be concerning if we don’t get any of it back."

Canales remains steadfast that the county will get the money back, if not through agencies in Washington, D.C., then perhaps those closer to home.

“Texas has over $2 billion dollars in allocations that they have not spent," she said. "So we have also petitioned Texas to share some of those allocations with counties that did not receive their fair share."