Fire district repays FEMA, some allocated funds remain

Friday, September 7, 2012 | 8:38 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The Boone County Fire Protection District repaid $213,648 to the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Thursday afternoon.

Although this amount had been anticipated, $538,805 of the amount originally allocated to repay FEMA remains in the Fire District's capital and contingency fund.

This payment comes after a 2009 audit conducted by the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general found that the Fire District had overpaid itself in FEMA preparedness grants and deployment reimbursements for the district sponsored Missouri Task Force One, a search and rescue team that offers emergency support in disaster areas.

The Fire District placed $752,453 in their capital and contingency fund in 2010 while they challenged some of the inspector general's recommendations.

In July, FEMA notified the Fire District that the required repayment might be significantly reduced, and the district received a bill with the adjusted amount in August.

Station commanders and board members of the Fire District are currently discussing what to do with the remaining money that had been set aside to repay FEMA. It could be used to fund district projects and purchase professional equipment, Fire District Chief Scott Olsen said.

The Fire District is continuing to dispute two points from the audit's current findings, related to $101,827 in unused funds from preparedness grants issued from FEMA in 2004 and 2005 and $13,840 in unsupported preparedness costs. This could mean that part of the Fire District's payment to FEMA could eventually be returned but "we have no illusion that it's going to end anytime soon," Olsen said.

Supervising editor is Katherine Reed.

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