Federal Government says Charlotte misspent DNC safety funds - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Federal Government says Charlotte misspent DNC safety funds

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

The city of Charlotte misspent over $132,000 in federal funds meant to help secure the city during the Democratic National Convention, according to a review of the grant generated by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

In a 27-page report obtained by WBTV, the DOJ Inspector General says out of the $49.6 million Charlotte received from the U.S. government, the city used about $79,000 for unallowable personnel costs, and more than $53,000 to purchase two sport utility vehicles it did not modify for DNC use in ways the Fed had expected. 

The report gives specifics and claims city employees told federal officials that clerical errors and oversights are to blame. 

"The city charged  [the fund] $7,955 in retirement supplements payments to a retired police captain," it reads, adding that "A city official told us the city inadvertently charged the grant for these payments."

The report also says about $16,600 was paid out to employees of the Charlotte Fire Department who shouldn't have received the money.

"A city official told us that these costs were inadvertently charged to the grant due to a clerical error," the report states. 

It also accuses the city of double-billing for salaries, overtime and fringe benefits for 19 city personnel, and says a city official called the overbilling an oversight as well.  In addition, "The city charged $12,295 for a lump sum payment to a police deputy chief," the report says. "A city official told us the payment should not have been reimbursed from the grant…"

City Council members we reached out to Thursday have not yet responded, and CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe was unavailable.

Keith Richardson, interim director of the city's corporate communications and marketing department gave WBTV the following statement:

"Of the more than $49 million the City received in grant reimbursements, the OIG's audit identified two findings.  The first was for $53,676 for the purchase of two sport utility vehicles, which CMPD modified with emergency lighting, siren and radio systems.  However in plans to attach running boards and grab bars to the frames of these vehicles per BJA specifications, the department discovered the modifications would pose a safety hazard for officers.  Taking into account this discovery coupled with the fact that such modifications are not permitted on leased vehicles, we disagree with this finding and have communicated our position to the Office of Justice Programs.
 
However, we do concur with the OIG's finding of $79,311 in non-allowable personnel expenses, which was the result of reimbursement oversights and among thousands of lines of data the department was working with to reimburse all agencies and vendors.  We take our role as a good stewards of taxpayer dollars seriously and look forward to future conversations with the OIG to resolve any outstanding issues."

Richardson said the city will have to draw from its general fund to repay the federal government.

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