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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Buffalo, NY ordered to repay FEMA for improper emergency procurement

City must pay back $4 million in storm aid
Federal auditors determined that the city didn't comply with procurement standards when contracting for debris removal and other services. Auditors also concluded that the city overspent when it hired companies to remove storm debris.

A 2006 investigation by The Buffalo News several weeks after the storm revealed that Buffalo and Erie County paid top dollar for cleanup, as much as 50 percent to 85 percent higher than some suburban communities.

In Buffalo, city leaders skipped the public bidding process, reasoning that safety concerns took priority. In Erie County, the investigation concluded that the county paid more for debris removal because of its decision to focus on hiring local contractors.

Gillibrand was equally critical of the determination, saying local citizens should not be forced to shoulder the fiscal burden for Buffalo's "efficient" actions after the disaster. "If it weren't for the city's quick response to the Surprise October storm, the toll on its residents and properties could have been much worse," she said. "Local residents should not be left shouldering all of the costs from this storm."

"We did everything by the numbers," the mayor said. "We were one of the communities that most quickly recovered after the storm ... and we had the debris up most quickly."

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