The city council on Thursday will consider whether to let the city auditor examine paperwork related to $50 million the Port of Galveston received from its insurance company after Hurricane Ike struck the island in 2008.
“This is not a witch hunt and we are not looking to get anybody,” Port Director Rodger Rees said. “It’s a lot of money and I’d just like to see where it went so that as we are moving forward with our planning, we will know if a million dollars were spent on a specific pier.”
Both city leaders and managers of the public docks emphasized they didn’t suspect any wrongdoing, but wanted to examine how the insurance funding was spent in the months after Hurricane Ike.
When Hurricane Ike hit the island on Sept. 13, 2008, it badly damaged many of the port’s docks and other property. Insurers reimbursed the port about $55 million for recovery work and the Federal Emergency Management Agency was initially projected to cover another $40 million, according to Tetra Tech, a consultant firm formerly employed by the port.
Waterfront managers in September said they were considering the insurance payments while negotiating and working to recoup funding the port was supposed to receive from FEMA, but hasn’t yet.
Port officials at the time said that depending on what they found while reviewing the documents, they could call for an audit.
Waterfront leaders are still planning to call for an audit, but were hopeful that could come after they finish work to recoup that funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Rees said.
“Before we get into that, I’d like to finish up all the claims we have with FEMA now,” Rees said. “It’s 10 years later and we’re still working with FEMA on $16 million in projects.”
Since taking the helm in January, Rees has worked to find methods to pay to repair dilapidated facilities at the public docks that could cost as much as $250 million to bring up to standard, he said.