leflore county owes state for fema overpayment
Posted in the Poteau Forum
#1 Jan 25, 2007
FROM SPIRO GRAPHIC TODAY
COUNTY LOSES FEMA SUIT
County commissioners lost a FEMA suit filed in Oklahoma County District Court after LeFlore County Asst. Dist. Atty. Jeff Singer huddled with state officials in Oklahoma City.
Earlier this month the district judge ruled in favor of Oklahoma FEMA Agency and ordered the county to pay back those funds along with interest. Interest rates may not exceed 10 percent annually.
It is expected that county officials will put an assessment on the property owners in the county during fiscal 2007-08.
State officials asked for a $244,000 judgement with overpayment of federal funds for a five-year old ice storm, dealing with road and bridge repair. Federal funds were paid back to FEMA by the state. The state asked for the funds to be paid by the county.
Singer said, "FEMA made a mistake because of a decimal figure was misplaced in the original allocation to the county, but they want the funds paid"
County officials offered $125,000 to the state but they did not take it. Commission Chairman Carroll Wayne Rogers, D-Spiro suggested a new offer of $184,000. The Oklahoma district judge did not accept the county's proposal.
Singer said the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office would receive 25 percent of the full settlement to prosecute this case in district court under the county's proposal.
"Property tax rolls are frozen this fiscal year (2006-07)" said County Clerk Alan Vickers, D-Heavener. "If there is a judgement for the first payment would be in 13 months"
"Property taxes already have been certified this fiscal year," he said. FEMA dropped the ball.... they should take full responsibility for their action."
Most of the FEMA funds were allocated to the Central and Northern Commission Dist. to repair damages from that ice storm.
#2 Jan 25, 2007
Sounds to me like the commissioners received (and kept) at least ten times what they should have.
#3 Feb 16, 2007
Posted: Sat Jan 27, 2007 8:18 am Post subject:
This is the Poteau Daily News version of the FEMA story.
From Poteau Daily News: January 26, 2007
County property owners are looking at an increase in the ad valorem taxes in order to pay back over $244,000 in funds which FEMA claims they overpaid the county during the December 2000 ice storm.
The case has been pending for some time, but a judge ruled earlier this month that the county was responsible for paying back the money.
The bulk of the funds went to LeFlore Coounty Districts 1 and 2. Commissioners Lance Smith and Carroll Rogers spent the funds in good faith as they were not aware that FEMA would claim overpayment.
In his ruling the judge ordered the county to pay back the funds plus interest.
Commissioner Freddie Cox said the county is presently looking into a tort claim act that might limit the amount of judgement against the county.
What the ruling means is that the judgment will be on the tax rolls for three years. A third of the money will be paid back each year.
Cox said for a $100,000 in taxes, the increase could be about $4.
The FEMA money was used following the ice storm of 2000 for cleanup and repairs, along with allocating some funds to individuals to purchase generators, chain saws and other equipment.
The commissioners have argued they should not have to pay for FEMA's mistake.
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