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Comptroller report shows county spent more than $130,000 on food charged to Federal COVID-19 fund

Posted at 4:17 PM, Aug 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-07 17:23:41-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Erie County Comptroller's Office report found that after reviewing receipts and invoices for food purchases since March first until July 29, the county had spent $131,966 on food expenses.

"We think it's important to be as transparent as we possibly can with taxpayers, with the public so that they know how these $160 million in federal COVID funds are being spent," said Lynne Dixon, Associate Deputy Comptroller.

It was the Erie County Legislature that requested a breakdown of the expenditures that were billed by the Poloncarz Administration to the federal COVID-19 fund.

The report shows that $19,162 was spent on food delivered to an area hotel rented by Erie County to house individuals who do not have a safe place to recover from COVID-19.

"That serves as a recovery place for them, who are recovering from COVID-19 but don't have to be hospitalized," said Dixon.

The report also found that there were food purchases that did not have enough documentation. It found that there was not documentation for $22,000 in food purchases.

"The majority of the expenses were to go to pay for meals and food for Erie County employees, and there's significant documentation missing," said Dixon.

That documentation is important in the event that the federal government wishes to do an audit to see how COVID-19 funds were spent.

In response to the report, County Executive Mark Poloncarz sent 7 EWN the following statement:

“Many dedicated employees contributed to Erie County’s response to the global pandemic, often working 16 to 18 hour days to protect the public. Rather than stay home and be paid without working, they performed essential duties and went above and beyond to assist local residents in need, and during these long days lunch and dinner was provided to our dedicated workforce, as it has been done in the past during various states of emergencies. I am very proud of the efforts of our dedicated staff during a period of time when our region was in need of responsive government action. It is disappointing that the Comptroller has chosen to criticize the feeding of the many hard working employees who spent many long hours working to protect the public and save lives, especially considering the cost of which is a wholly reimbursable expense under federal emergency guidelines.”
Mark Poloncarz, Erie County Executive