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FEMA asks for less money from Erie County in revised audit

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Buffalo: FEMA asks for less money from Erie County in revised audit
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FEMA has revised its audit of Erie County following the October 2006 storm, asking for significantly less money than before. YNN's Katie Cummings has reaction from both county and state leaders.

ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. — Erie County announced Friday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, won’t pursue tens of millions of dollars in federal aid which was paid out during the October 2006 storm. The agency originally demanded $48.5 million, a number that officials disagreed with.

"Is were not dotted and Ts were not crossed. In a moment of emergency, to demand $48 million from the city of buffalo was a disgrace," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York.

"That would have devastated the county's finances; the fact is, Erie County followed the rules and guidance of FEMA," said County Executive Mark Poloncarz, D-Erie County.

The decision comes after an independent review sided with the county on nearly all of its claims.

Poloncarz says he doesn't dispute FEMA's claim that the county changed its rules after the storm to pay management overtime out of the federal money.

"Some of it was around how we were able to get contractors out to clean up, and so in a time of disaster, you can’t go through that normal bidding process. It takes weeks sometimes," said County Legislator Timothy Hogues, D.

The county will now have to pay $705,000, and county officials say that’s feasible.

"Right now, we're at a minor surplus as far as our year to date budget and so we believe that, well I believe, that we should be able to figure out how to cover this," said Hogues.

"We actually just received a little over $700,000 from the control board to be used for any purpose," said Poloncarz.

Hogues says the county will plan ahead to make sure there are no complications in the future.

"They require us to go through our policies and procedures to see if they're tight and if they fit with the local laws and regulations that are required, and if so, we'll move on, and if not we'll make the proper adjustments," said Hogues.

Hogues says the issue will likely be voted on at the next finance and management committee meeting in September.

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