Oil spill expense report releasedMar 9th, 2011 | By Michelle Provencher | Category: news
Expenses incurred by Plaquemines Parish due to the BP oil spill
were presented at the most recent parish audit committee meeting
for review while the parish awaits additional reimbursement from the company.
Regular compensation of $420,000, already incorporated into the parish’s budget, was listed and the $546,000 portion is for overtime pay, according to the report.
“BP is basically paying us for expenses we would have had anyway,” said Peeples.
Peeples gave an example of Parish President Billy Nungesser’s salary. While Nungesser received no additional compensation above his normal salary, auditors claim BP should reimburse $36,000 of the president’s salary to the parish budget, because of the time Nungesser spent addressing oil spill issues.
The numbers generated are as of Dec. 2010, and Peeples said the up-to-date amount has not yet been calculated by finance.
At present, more than $30,000 was identified for “miscellaneous expenses.”
BP gave Plaquemines $1 million for bills following the Deepwater Horizon explosion in April 2010 and the subsequent crisis to local fishermen and the eroding coastline caused by the oil spill.
Peeples said he is not sure what payment method BP will choose; they may opt to reimburse the parish the $64,000 difference, or pay the parish $1,064,000 in addition to the $1 million already put up to cover future costs.
Plaquemines Parish Councilman and Audit Committee member, Burghart Turner, District 6, said he wanted to know when BP will pay up the deficit.
“Other parishes have gotten their additional funding,” said Turner. “And here we are, still sitting on our million.”
Peeples said the expenses were acquired, and then a ledger of the costs was configured after the fact.
“As soon as the journal entries [of expenses] are completed, it will be charged to BP,” said Peeples. “Once they close the books, everything should tie into BP.”
However, Turner said following the money trail should be easier, more transparent.
“Some of us are completely in the dark, as far as the hiring of personnel,” said Turner.
Turner also said he had a problem with hiring Ed Camnetar, a Gretna CPA who lives in Belle Chasse, to compile the monetary information; his services carry a nearly $14,000 fee. Turner suggested using the parish’s finance department.
“Our finance department has all this data,” urged Turner. “All [Camnetar] is doing is regurgitating data.”
Peeples defended the information gathering process; he said BP may require an indpendent third party to put together the expense report, and that BP agreed to pay Camnetar’s surcharge.
“We’re complying with the way that BP wanted it reported,” said Peeples. Camnetar was not at the meeting, but said the amount of work that goes into the project is immense.
“My impression is that [the parish finance department] does not have the additional personnel to do that,” said Camnetar.
It is unknown how much the London-based oil and gas company will dole out to Plaquemines Parish in the end, as government officials have not announced when oil spill efforts will cease.
Nungesser said he is proud of the way the parish handled the oil spill and the audit bears out it was an efficient operation. “The amount we are being reimbursed is less than other parishes because we spent less.”
Nungesser said it is an easier task for the government to justify expenses and reimbursements than business owners and private citizens because it has the resources to verify the claims. “I still am very concerned that many of our smaller business operators and fishermen are struggling with BP and their claims process,” he said.