A recent federal audit claims Erie County should reimburse the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for $48 million in expenses incurred during the October storm of 2006.
According to the audit, filed January 29th, The Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, a FEMA grantee, awarded Erie County with $55.4 million for damages caused by the storm. The county did not comply with Federal grant regulations and FEMA guidelines when awarding contracts totaling $39.4 million
of the $53 million they reviewed. In addition, FEMA reimbursed the County $9 million for inadequately supported costs. Finally, the County improperly charged $33,066 of administrative costs as direct costs, and included $10,456 of duplicate costs within the claimed
Emergency Operations Center (EOC) supply costs. As a result, they question $48,465,416 of ineligible and unsupported costs claimed by the County.
Local lawmakers are now responding to the audit.
Congressman Brian Higgins said "I support the efforts of the various Inspectors General…to root out the misuse of public resources; in this case, however, I must conclude that this attempt to foist this bill on the property-taxpayers of Erie County is misguided, as it is inconsistent with applicable law.”
Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw plans to work collaboratively with the Control Board, Legislature, and County Executive to fight for a solution that protects tax payers. "If we need to lobby our federal congressional delegation and FEMA together, then count me in," said Mychajliw.
Stay tuned to Eyewitness News for more developments as they become available.