Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bad News County

By Andrew Kreighbaum
Laredo Morning Times
Published: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 1:41 AM CDT
Webb County Attorney Anna Cavazos Ramirez said the county may not be reimbursed by the state for any outstanding claims from the Weatherization Assistance Program because of shoddy documentation and paperwork.
Should the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs make that decision it would further place in doubt payments to private contractors that have already been delayed for months.
Reimbursement for five local contractors comes in at under $1 million.  Commissioners want to avoid any lawsuits but the county doesn't have $800,000+ budgeted to pay them.  Even though some people legitmately qualified for weatherization services, the state is not going to ante up because proper procedure wasn't followed by CAA staff throughout.  County Auditor Leo Flores:
He said in many cases county investigators don't know if the required purchasing order was drafted before a contractor did work.  Instead, contractors in many cases received verbal or emailed instructions from a Community Action Agency case worker.
The money owed to contractors would either have to come from insurance or from the general reserve fund, according to Flores.

It looks like the county will have to pay up.  They might argue that shoddy work was done by contractors, or that somebody was not authorized to pay them.  But it's looking like the county is running out of options. 

What I want to know is who (or what process) selected the staff at CAA that started all this mess.  My curiosity is not so much to point fingers but to shed light on how things work around here. 

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