Local officials say 'system issues,' reporting confusion led to noncompliance
LAS VEGAS — Five Nevada entities receiving federal “stimulus” or “Recovery Act” grants totaling over $1.9 million were listed as "noncompliant" during the third quarter, according to a report published by the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board.
The five grants created a total of five jobs in Nevada, according to Recovery Act data, and three of the grants went to local county governments.
The most expensive grant was a $775,995 grant made in September 2009, titled "The Washoe County Sheriff's Office Community Work Program." Channeled through the Department of Justice, it was supposed to unfreeze three full-time deputy positions for the WCSO's Alternative to Incarceration Unit.
"System issues" uploading the reports resulted in the grant being pegged as still noncompliant in October 2012, said Valerie Moser, an administrator in the Sheriff's office. The issue has been resolved, she said.
"WCSO checked with [its DOJ representative] again today and she has confirmed she shows WCSO as in compliance," said Moser in an email response after Nevada Journal inquired about the grant's status.
The largest grant that didn't go to a public entity was a $618,360 grant received by Mike Lemich, Inc., the parent company of Country Construction, based in Ely.
Lemich, a White Pine County Commissioner, is a registered Democrat. He did not return Nevada Journal's calls requesting comment.
The grant was issued by the Department of the Interior in June 2010 for a tree thinning project "to reduce forest fire risk and provide biomass and fuel wood to the local community." It funded two jobs.
Douglas County, according to Recovery.gov, received a $195,000 grant in September 2009 for "development and implementation of County Energy Policy" and to "retrofit building and street lighting."
Kathy Lewis, Douglas County's Management Analyst, says the grant ended in June and county personnel didn't think they were required to file a third-quarter report.
"We were notified that the last report in June was not complete and should have been corrected in September in the federal reporting system," said Lewis. "Since we missed the September deadline, we will do a final report for December 2012, which is due in January 2013."
The Lyon County Sheriff's Office experienced similar confusion. It received a $50,186 grant for increased "street enforcement" that was completed in June. The grant didn't create any full-time jobs but covered deputies' overtime pay.
A spokeswoman for Lyon County Sheriff Allen Veil told Nevada Journal the office would clarify any missing reports in its December 2012 report.
CCSN McFarland Housing, Inc., a nonprofit senior citizen housing development located in Las Vegas, received $327,968 and failed to report the last two quarters on the grant, according to Recovery.gov.
The grant, authorized by the Department of Housing and Urban Development for a "green retrofit program for multifamily homes," created zero jobs. Attempts to contact CCSN McFarland Housing were unsuccessful.
Ed Pound, communications director for the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, says the noncompliance report is intended as a "wall of shame" for the listed entities and that any further punishment lies with the federal agencies responsible for the grants.
"The President issued a memo in April 2010 that basically gave the agencies power to suspend or revoke funds if the recipient has a pattern of noncompliance," said Pound.
"Our goal in publishing the report is to show taxpayers where their money is going and bringing pressure on recipients to properly track their funds."
Overall, 35 Nevada entities have been cited for noncompliance since the Recovery Act was passed in February 2009, including large entities such as Clark County, Carson City and the Nevada System of Higher Education.
Carson City, Douglas County and CCSN McFarland have all been cited more than once over the years.