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Ricks: FEMA arbitration 'detrimental' for the parish

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Posted: Jun 30, 2014 4:15 PM by Russell Jones and Ryan Naquin
Updated: Jun 30, 2014 11:18 PM
Source: WBRZ

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Topics: Layton Ricks, Hurricane Gustav, FEMA, Livingston Parish, recovery, arbitration

LIVINGSTON - Parish President Layton Ricks said he disagreed with an arbitration panel's decision which left Livingston Parish on the hook for nearly $60 million in Hurricane Gustav cleanup costs.

Ricks told News 2 the decision "could be detrimental for the parish," and said he did not know how they were going to cover bills owed to contractors.

"I don't know," he said, "but we're not closing the books."

The parish was seeking repayment for more than $59 million spent on debris removal, limb removal, and administrative costs after Hurricane Gustav passed through the area in 2008. FEMA denied their requests for repayment, saying the parish misapplied rules and regulations.

Ricks shifted the blame to the prior administration.

"The buck always stops at the man at the top," Ricks said. "Somebody at the top has to be in charge...But I do not want this to turn into a Layton Ricks versus Mike Grimmer situation. This is a Livingston Parish versus FEMA."

Former Parish President Mike Grimmer fired back at Ricks' claim.

"We had monitors hired. As you know, Mr. Ricks worked for one of the monitors that was actually suppose to be watching for the parish and guarding our backs. That didn't happen," said Grimmer.

Grimmer stopped payment to those contractors after what he called questionable billing. He testified for FEMA before an arbitration panel in Washington D. C., which announced their decision after hearings this weekend.

According to Grimmer, cleanup was approved by agencies hired by the parish.

Ricks was employed with one of monitors, Fairburn and Associates, during Hurricane Gustav.

"We had no subs that worked for Livingston Parish. They worked under the direction of our monitors," Grimmer said. "According to the rulings, according to the appeals, according to Mike Grimmer, (the monitors) didn't watch our back."

Current parish leaders spent the afternoon on the phone with their attorney, asking about appeal possibilities.

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