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FEMA says Erie County owes $700k, not $48 million, for storm cleanup

Ashley Hirtzel/WBFO News

Erie County will not have to repay millions in federal aid it received following the October 2006 surprise storm. Earlier this year, an audit by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General claimed the county's bid process, which used local contractors for the cleanup work, did not comply with federal standards, and the county was told to repay $48.5 million.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency now says a revised audit shows the county should return just over $705,000 in aid. 

County Executive Mark Poloncarz says he is relieved. He says the initial assessment would have "devastated the county's finances."

"I feel like Erie County has been vindicated by FEMA's response and now we can all put this disaster finally behind us," Poloncarz said.

Poloncarz and Senator Charles Schumer met with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate in June to argue the county's case.

Poloncarz says the county will use funding it received from the control board and some of its anticipated surplus to to repay the federal government. The county received more than $55 million from FEMA after the storm caused widespread damage.

He says the revised audit shows the county did a good job in keeping records and doing things properly.