FEMA Federal Emergency Management Agency questions $6 million in Miramar claims after Hurricane Wilma

Jul 8, 2012

The following article was published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel on July 8, 2012:

FEMA questions $6 million in Miramar claims after Hurricane Wilma

By Heather Carney


The city could have to repay millions of dollars in federal disaster recovery funds from Hurricane Wilma, making it next in the line of local governments under question.

FEMA asked the city to reimburse about $6 million of the $16.5 million it received for damages from the 2005 hurricane. The Department of Homeland Security‘s Office of Inspector General also released audits for Coral Springs and Pompano Beach.

In 2011, the office questioned more than $50 million in reimbursements in 18 other South Florida audits for local cities, school boards and counties.

Like many of the cities under question, Miramar said it does not agree with the FEMA findings.

“In our formal answer to their report we will provide all of the factual details that support our original claim for reimbursement,” city spokesman Gus Zambrano said in a written statement.

The June audit report said the city did not ask for competitive bids for three contracts totaling $5,991,845 for debris removal.

Instead, the report said, the city contacted three area contractors and awarded the work without negotiation. City officials have 90 days to respond to the report with a corrective action plan.

Miramar expects a resolution that has little if any financial impact on the city, Zambrano said. He said it’s too early in the process to know the details of the response.

Other cities are grappling with similar reviews. In Coral Springs, FEMA identified $5.3 million in questioned costs, including $1.6 million in costs covered by insurance and $3.7 million in costs that the agency said were unsupported, duplicate, unreasonable and ineligible.

City spokeswoman Maria Fuentes-Archilla said Coral Springs submitted documentation to the state division of emergency management to support all but $29,315 of the questioned costs.

“The city believes it will be able to successfully address the issues raised in the OIG audit report,” said City Manager Erdal Donmez. He said this will allow FEMA to determine the eligibility of costs incurred by the city following Hurricane Wilma.

The city of Hollywood intends to reimburse $1.3 million out of $5 million identified during its 2011 OIG review, spokesman Jaime Hernandez said. He said the city received duplicate payments for the same project from the Federal Highway Administration and FEMA.

“The city is appealing something with FEMA,” Hernandez said. “Once that’s resolved, the city will repay FEMA.”

View the original article here:  http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/miramar/fl-miramar-fema-20120707,0,3697695.story