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Port Neches amends budget for Hurricane Laura, other expenses

PORT NECHES — Southeast Texas cities dealt with not only one, but two major disasters this year. Throw in the TPC explosions late last year, and the City of Port Neches is dealing with three incidents.

All of these unexpected events led to a $440,000 budget increase for the city’s 2019-2020 fiscal year.

City Manager Andre Wimer said one issue involves known and expected expenditures related to Hurricane Laura. Expenditures are in the $250,000 range.

“That will include personnel costs in terms of preparation and response to the storm, additional costs for collection of debris and processing that debris,” he said. “It also includes things like overtime for employees that remained here and worked in advance of the storm and subsequently beyond the typical workday.”

Wimer said costs could have been much higher.

“We were expecting to be directly hit by the hurricane,” he said. “So I think that in terms of expectation, it was really unknown until the event happened, and the ultimate course of the storm dictated the amount of damage that was incurred in Port Neches. It could have been significantly more. Conversely, it could have been less.”

The city spent $225,000 on emergency preparedness wages for Hurricane Laura.

Due to the last-minute turn in the hurricane’s path, Southeast Texas missed the brunt of the storm. As such, the Mid- and South County cities did not meet the necessary threshold in order to receive monetary aide and reimbursements.

“Those expenses will be the city’s to bear in terms of preparation, restoration and disposable costs, which came primarily from green waste,” Wimer said.

Other changes that resulted in increases in expenditures and revenue include disasters such as the TPC explosion and onset of COVID-19.

Expenditures jumped from $11,453,150 to $11,893,150. Revenue increased from an estimated $11,192,650 to $11,407,650.

Purchasing COVID-19 supplies added $24,500 to expenditures. Disaster protection wages for TPC totaled $131,000 and disaster repairs around $44,000.

Wimer said the town would receive reimbursements for some costs, but not all.

“In terms of the TPC incident, those costs were reimbursed,” he said. “For COVID, we will receive reimbursement as well.”

TPC claims and settlements canceled out the expenditure cost bringing in $136,000 in revenue. Other revenue resources for the year include $115,000 in property rental fees, $49,000 in pipeline permits and $40,000 in interest income, among others.

Wimer said these adjustments happen on an annual basis, typically in September.

“If you’ve had line items that have not been fully expended, then those funds are reallocated to line items that have been expended over the original anticipated amount,” he said. “The intent in reallocating the money is so we can have an accurate historical perspective moving forward.

“For example, if we budget $5,000 for fuel and we actually spent $7,500, we want to be able to track that as an actual amount over time, because that provides guidance to what actual expenses were.”

Other expenditures that needed amending include routine items such a department supplies, new motor vehicles, uniform maintenance, street material and others.

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