FEMA denies St. Tammany request to forgive Katrina loans

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wwltv.com

Posted on February 14, 2011 at 7:01 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 14 at 11:44 PM

MANDEVILLE, LA - St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis said FEMA once again denied his request for disaster loan forgiveness, but he said, they granted a five-year extension before payments are due.

"We've gotten a letter saying we've been denied," David said Monday. "They've given us another five year extension on discussion of how we would repay them. So, we don't have to do any of that for another five years."

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, St. Tammany Parish Government borrowed $12 million, according to Davis, just to keep operating.

Davis traveled to Washington last week to ask again for loan forgiveness, but was told no again.

"The problem is," Davis said, "Congressional members say, ‘yes, we want to help you, but there seems to be no movement on the floor, no piece of legislation that would allow that to happen.’" Other St. Tammany government entities also took FEMA disaster loans after Katrina.

The St. Tammany Sheriff's Department borrowed more than $9 million, and the St. Tammany School System borrowed the most, roughly $68 million.

According to Superintendent Trey Folse, the money was needed to make payroll and to get temporary facilities up and running.

FEMA handles each loan separately.

Every entity later asked for loan forgiveness and were denied.

In the latest round of requests, St. Tammany Parish Government got the answer first.

His request was denied, even though other parishes like Orleans have had much larger loans forgiven.

"The frustrating part is, some parishes have been forgiven and others haven't,” said Davis. “I don't know how you justify that from an intellectual standpoint of how you can forgive some governments, and some you can't."

Davis said, he will continue to work towards having the loan forgiven by the time the five-year extension is up. Davis said he will travel to Washington DC month with leaders of Jefferson and Lafourche Parishes to pitch, once again, Katrina Disaster Loan forgiveness.

Davis spoke to the media Monday morning at the opening of the Towers Building on Old Spanish Trail in Slidell.

The building took in more than five feet of water during Katrina, and was rebuilt through a combination of FEMA, insurance and parish money.

The Towers Building will house a variety of parish offices.

"We're excited that we've finally gotten this open," Davis said. "It has taken five years, going through the process and all the issues, construction of the building. So, we're excited to get everybody back here into one building where people can come."

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