ORANGE BEACH, Alabama – While more businesses are receiving claims checks, other merchants as well as government agencies still need help being reimbursed for losses caused by the BP PLC oil spill, Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon said Friday.
Kennon met Friday with U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, asking for assistance with the claims process. The discussion was one of several planned meetings Shelby had Friday with officials in Orange Beach, Gulf Shores and Bayou La Batre, according to the senator.
BP still owes the city more than $1.5 million in claims for lost municipal revenue resulting from the April 20 oil spill, Kennon said.
The mayor said he also mentioned to Shelby that other cities and the Baldwin County school system are owed money.
“To not pay businesses is bad enough,” Kennon said. “But to not pay schools when they’re looking at proration and having to lay off teachers, that’s just unacceptable to not do the right thing as far as that goes.”
The school system has filed claims for $4.3 million in lost revenue, but has not received any response on the request for reimbursement, Terry Wilhite, Board of Education spokesman, said Friday.
Shelby said in a phone interview Friday afternoon that he asked Kennon to send any reports of unpaid claims to his office. He said he plans to meet next month with oil claims czar Ken Feinberg about local business claims and would also do whatever he could to help with claims by government agencies.
Feinberg took over the claims process for individuals and businesses on Aug. 23. Shelby said that Kennon told him the claims process has still been slow and incomplete.
“We want to try to address those as best we can and make sure that just claims are paid,” Shelby said.
BP spokesman Justin Saia said Friday that he was checking on the Orange Beach and school system claims, but might not be able to confirm the status of the requests until Monday.
Kennon also asked Shelby for help in getting more assistance with cleaning the beaches and upcoming beach renourishment programs.
The mayor said the beach cleaning program should be complete by the end of this year. He said he hopes that officials should be ready to start a beach renourishment program by the end of the 2011 tourist season in September.