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Published: Tuesday, 9/2/2014 - Updated: 2 months ago

Toledo must return $396,000 in federal police funds

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

Toledo will have to return $396,000 in grant money the city received in 2009 to pay to keep police on the streets, but appears to have dodged another $2.5 million bill.

Mayor D. Michael Collins introduced a bill at city council Tuesday to repay the federal government for the COPS grant and council could act on it as early as next Tuesday.

Mr. Collins said the city made mistakes in filling out the application for $7.1 million from the U.S. Department of Justice’s COPS Hiring Program grant. The main mistake was in estimating costs of sick leave and vacation leave as if they were in addition to police officers’ base salary, which they are not.

The finding was included in an audit by the U.S. Department of Justice’s inspector general.

Mr. Collins said the money to repay the feds would come out of the city’s risk management fund. And he said the fund would be replenished with three equal installments of $133,000 from the police department’s next three annual budgets.

While Mayor Collins portrayed the issue as a mistake by unidentified administrators, police Lt. Rich Hoover blamed the snafu on a confusing federal government application questionnaire that he said confounded other cities as well.

The federal inspector general initially found the city liable for another $2.5 million because the city violated the terms of the $7.1 million federal grant obtained under former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner.

A condition of getting the money was that Toledo had to maintain at least 495 patrolmen, something the city was unable to do because of retirements and insufficient budget.

Mr. Hoover said the city made the case to the Justice Department that it was not intentionally taking advantage of the grant to replace funding it would have been responsible for.

Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.



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