Boone County Fire Protection Owes FEMA More Than $200,000

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BOONE COUNTY - The Boone County Fire Protection District told KOMU 8 News Thursday it owes $213,648 to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  This comes after the department received preliminary information from the 2009 U.S. Department of Homeland Security Audit. 

The amount owed is significantly less than the original amount of $752,453 the audit originially reported in 2009.  The audit listed several findings that could have resulted in the return of the whole sum, but according to Chief Scott Olsen, the number was too high.

Olsen said FEMA and the Boone County Fire Protection District have been communicating back and forth to get to a "reasonable sum of money."  Osen told KOMU 8 News that right now, about $100,000 of the amount owed is attributed to accounting errors. He said the remaining amount is still being debated to determine if it should all be returned.

"We have not received the detailed report of their findings or a timeline to repay it," Fire Chief Scott Olsen said. "Once we receive that document, the board of directors will review it and make a determination whether to accept or contest their findings."

The fire department expects to receive the full report within 30 days according to a media release. The fire department learned of its sanctions last week by phone.

Olsen said he is pleased with the number reached and said the communication between FEMA and the Boone County Fire Protection District has been cooperative. 

Because FEMA released the original report in 2009, Olsen said the department has been setting money aside--knowing they would have to pay back the money. Olsen said around the district has about $800,000 saved to repay FEMA. According to Olsen, the majority of that money will now go toward department projects, since the department will only have to pay back a maximum of $213,648.

Olsen said the repayment will not affect the department's ability to protect the community, and fire protection money is part of a completely separate fund.

The repayment is part of a July 6, 2009, audit by Federal Department of Homeland Security on the Boone County Fire Protection District regarding "grants and deployment reimbursements" from 2002 to 2006.

The cooperative agreements supported Missouri Task Force One between 2002 and 2007 according to Boone County Fire Battalion Chief Gale Blomenkamp. The Boone County Fire Protection District sponsors Missouri Task Force One.

The orginial audit in 2009 contained several findings from FEMA and Boone County Fire, but the two sides disagreed. The audit revealed a possible return of $752,453 from the fire district to FEMA. The full findings can be viewed here.