Appeal Summary | Appeal Letter | Appeal Analysis | Back
Second Appeal Summary
PA ID# 047-00000; Harrison County
DSR ID# 45685; FEMA-DHS-OIG Audit Report DA-13-03
Citation: FEMA-1251-DR-MS, Harrison County
Cross-reference: Emergency work, debris removal
Summary: On October 1, 1998, FEMA 1251-DR-MS was declared as a result of Hurricane Georges. Harrison County, Mississippi (County), requested reimbursement for removal and disposal of tree stumps countywide. FEMA prepared Damage Survey Report (DSR) 45685 for $2,018,775. FEMAs Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted an audit of the Public Assistance funds awarded to Harrison County to determine whether the County accounted for and expended FEMA funds according to Federal regulations and FEMA guidelines. The OIGs Audit Report DA-13-03, determined that the County had paid its contractors $2,018,775 for reportedly extracting and removing 8,783 tree stumps. Depending on the size and location of the stumps, the contractors received $150 to $325 per stump. It was then determined that homeowners had extracted the tree stumps from their private property and placed them on the curb for pickup and disposal. The OIG audit determined that the tree stumps did not present a safety hazard and, since the contractors did not extract the stumps, their fees were excessive. The OIG audit recommended use of the FEMA schedule cost of $28 per stump, plus 20 percent for profit and overhead, as a reasonable cost for pickup and disposal of tree stumps. FEMA Region IV concurred and prepared Supplemental DSR 09475 in the amount of -$1,723,666 to deobligate the excess charges.
Harrison County submitted a first appeal by letter dated December 10, 2003. The State of Mississippi (Grantee) supports the Countys claim. FEMA Region IV denied the first appeal on April 8, 2004, based on the fact that the contractors did not actually engage in stump removal (extraction) but merely picked up and hauled tree stumps that had been placed on the public rights-of-way. Once placed at the curb, the stumps are debris and the cost of removal is reimbursed at the established per cubic yard rate.
Harrison Countys second appeal, dated May 25, 2004, objects to the OIGs findings and the ruling of FEMA Regional Director. The Grantee recommends that the disallowed costs be ruled as eligible. FEMA review of bid specifications does not substantiate the Countys claim.
Issues: Should the County be reimbursed for the full cost of extraction and disposal of 8,783 tree stumps?
Findings: No. The bid prices received were consistent with the effort required for ground extraction of tree stumps. Since the stumps had been placed at the curb by landowners, the stumps are considered debris and the cost of removal is reimbursed at the established per cubic yard rate.