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Second Appeal Brief
PA ID# 227-55080-00; City of Paris
PW ID# 776; Stump Removal Costs
Citation: FEMA-1356-DR-TX; City of Paris; Project Worksheet #776
Cross-reference: Emergency work, general eligibility, insufficient documentation
Summary: On January 8, 2001, FEMA-1356-DR-TX was declared as a result of ice storms in Texas. The City of Paris (City), requested reimbursement for removal and disposal of 400 tree stumps from Lake Crook Park, 304 from a debris staging area and 144 from various streets around the city. FEMA prepared Project Worksheet (PW) #776 on April 1, 2001, for $179,050. FEMA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted an investigation of the City's debris removal operation in Lake Crook Park and recommended deobligation of $179,050 based on the investigating agent's determination that a majority of the stumps came from undamaged trees in the beautification and development of unimproved areas within Lake Crook Park. FEMA deobligated $179,050 with PW #776 Version 1 on August 15, 2001.
The City submitted a first appeal on October 5, 2001, seeking a copy of all documentation that contributed to the deobligation. On December 3, 2001, the Regional Director denied the appeal because the OIGs investigation concluded that the stumps were removed from undamaged trees in unimproved areas and did not obstruct the public right of way. In the City's December 26, 2001, second appeal and May 1, 2001, supplemental letter, the City requested all documentation relating to the stump removal project under the Freedom of Information Act. On February 22, 2002, FEMA provided copies of documents resulting from the OIG's investigation. In the supplemental letter the City charged the OIG's investigation to be "fraught with so many errors [that] it is without credibility." The City admitted that it was unaware that it needed to retain documentation regarding the eligibility of the removal of the stumps. To establish the requisite documentation, the City submitted affidavits from each City employee involved with the debris removal operation and load tickets for each stump.
Issues: 1) Do the affidavits establish the eligibility of removal of the stumps under the Public Assistance Program? 2) Do the load tickets establish eligibility of removal of the stumps under the Public Assistance Program?
Findings: 1) No, the affidavits attest that the Citys debris removal operations focused on removing only storm-damaged trees. They do not confirm that all stumps removed came from uprooted trees. 2) Only the load tickets from the various city streets establish the eligibility of the stumps for removal. The load tickets from the Park and staging area do not identify a specific location from which the stumps were removed.
Rationale: 44 CFR § 206.224 (a)