New Orleans, Jefferson Parish, Kenner, Gretna and Mandeville all signed off this week on settlements worth a total of almost $113 million from BP for financial hits they took in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The settlements, aimed at compensating local governments for effects such as the loss of tax revenue, follow the recent $18.7 billion deal among the oil giant, Gulf Coast states and the federal government to cover damage caused by the 2010 disaster. Louisiana is set to receive about $6.8 billion, the largest share of that settlement.
The settlement also included up to $1 billion to settle claims by scores of parishes, counties, municipalities, school boards and other local government agencies along the Gulf Coast. There are no restrictions on how they can use the money they receive.
New Orleans will get about $45 million under a deal announced Thursday, though many of the details are still under wraps.
“We will continue to deal with the long-term impacts of this disaster for years to come,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in announcing he had accepted the settlement. “However, this settlement is a positive step by BP to begin to repair the damage done. Moving forward, government and industry must come together to be more aggressive in not only restoring our coast but also preventing the next oil spill wherever it may occur.”
The Landrieu administration has suggested using the money for water management and coastal restoration, while Councilwoman Stacy Head said she was optimistic that efforts to improve drainage also would lead to improvements to minor streets in the city.
Asked whether there would be a specific process put in place to determine how the funds are used — and how much of the money will go to attorneys working for the city — Landrieu spokesman Brad Howard responded by email: “We cannot provide additional details at this time.”
Also Thursday, the Jefferson Parish Council voted unanimously to accept a total of $53 million from BP. The council said the settlement is “full and final” and authorizes the immediate release of the funds.
“I know there was a lot of work that went into getting this done. We are glad it’s not going to drag on for years,” Parish Council Chairman Chris Roberts said after a 20-minute executive session. “We would like to commend the courts for bringing about a resolution which will allow us as a parish to recover and move forward from this event.”
The parish government will get $45 million, with the rest of the money divided among 19 other Jefferson governmental districts, which will get between $10,000 and $1.48 million each, according to Jefferson Parish President John Young. Fire stations, playgrounds, drainage and sewage services all will benefit from the funds, he said.
“I think this is a positive step in the right direction to recover economic losses,” Young said. “I think the fact that we’re getting the money within 60 days of BP signing off, that we’re getting the proposed settlement, that this is moving forward in the best interest of Jefferson Parish.”
Private attorneys working for the parish are expected to receive about $11.7 million, or 22 percent, of the total under a contingency agreement.
In Kenner, the City Council approved its $9.3 million share of the settlement Thursday night.
Council President Gregory Carroll noted the city got a sizable chunk of the state’s overall settlement amount, rivaling the payments going to some parishes.
Attorney Michael Peytavin said the city got the appropriate amount, considering the size of Kenner’s economy and the losses it suffered after the oil spill.
Mayor Mike Yenni applauded the work done to get the settlement in a timely manner, noting that the Exxon Valdez spill settlement in Alaska took two decades. He said the money will be allocated in the coming months.
Kenner will pay between 21 percent and 24 percent of the money it receives to attorneys for costs and fees, City Councilman Keith Conley said.
The Gretna City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved that city’s $3.3 million share of the settlement.
The vote occurred after the council met in executive session during its regular monthly meeting.
Gretna Mayor Belinda Constant said discussions about what the city should do with the money likely will take place in the coming months.
Mandeville’s City Council on Thursday unanimously approved accepting $2.1 million as its part of the BP settlement. The money will be wired to the city within 45 to 60 days but is subject to the payment of attorney fees and other expenses related to the litigation, Mayor Donald Villere said.
Advocate staff writers Jeff Adelson, Chad Calder, Della Hasselle and Faimon A. Roberts III contributed to this report