By Johnny Kampis | Missouri Watchdog
ST LOUIS — Five government agencies and businesses in Missouri made the latest non-compliers list for failing to report how they used money from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The list, for the fourth quarter of 2011, identified 418 stimulus-fund recipients that failed to submit reports as required. Thirty-four recipients nationwide did not file reports for the past two cycles, including the Kinloch Police Department.
The list of non-compliers for the first quarter of 2012 has not yet been released.
When asked why they didn’t comply, representatives of the respective Missouri agencies said that either the projects had been completed or the department stopped receiving the money.
A Newton County sheriff’s lieutenant called the accountability measures the “weirdest report.”
Kinloch’s city manager said his municipality stopped receiving stimulus money last year, yet remains on the federal government’s black list.
The Recovery Act, often called the stimulus package, provided $840 billion to help with economic recovery. Through March 31, Missouri entities had received 6,193 awards worth some $4.94 billion.
One of the act’s goals was to make the spending process transparent through strict accountability measures. Agencies that receive the money must file quarterly reports detailing for what the money is being used.
The five Missouri recipients on the black list include Kinloch Police Department and Hollister Department of Public Safety, which got $90,604 and $112,609, respectively, to hire police officers.
The list also includes the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, which received $43,447 for patrol car terminals; Washington County, which was granted $29,476 to upgrade computers and software in its prosecuting attorney’s office; and Patriot Company Inc., awarded a $17,189 contract for a project in New York.
Kinloch City Manager Eric Mason said the police department is no longer getting the stimulus money.
“We discontinued the program with the Department of Justice last year,” Mason told Missouri Watchdog.
In its last report from June 30, Kinloch police reported receiving and using $46,175 to hire a career officer “engaged in community policing activities responding to local needs.”
Mason said the department did not receive the rest of the $90,604, since it canceled its project.
The police department received the funds as part of the COPS Hiring Recovery Program, which helps law-enforcement agencies hire or rehire higher-salaried, veteran officers.
Mason said the city is no longer eligible to receive the money because the officer who would have been employed under the program is ineligible. Mason indicated it was a sensitive personnel issue, and declined to discuss that aspect further.
“I don’t think that was communicated well with the federal government,” he said, noting that the grant predated his tenure as city manager.
Mason said as far as he knows, no report has been filed since the city stopped receiving the stimulus money.
Lt. Rick Geller of the Newton County Sheriff’s Office said his department used its money to install mobile data terminals in its patrol cars. These allow officers to quickly conduct criminal checks and communicate with dispatch.
Geller said the grant, because it was through the Department of Justice, required him to file three quarterly reports to that body and the federal reporting website.
“I called and talked to those people,” he said. “You were just duplicating crap, and I told them that.”
Geller said the department completed the project in November, and he filed all the required paperwork.
“I don’t know why we’re still on the non-compliance list because we’ve sent in all the reports,” he said.
However, the last report on recovery.gov is from Sept. 30, 2011, and shows Newton County as having spent $38,412 of its $43,447 award.
Geller said he has tried to submit a final report, as is required for all of the stimulus projects, and is awaiting assistance from someone at recovery.gov on how to do it.
“I tried to put on there it was final,” he said. “I haven’t been able to figure out how to do that.”
Washington County, Hollister Department of Public Safety and Patriot Company Inc. also were on the most-recent list of non-compliers, but all have since filed reports for the first quarter of this year.
The Washington County prosecuting attorney’s office reported using $3,054.98 of its stimulus money to buy new computers and software for its Karple system, which is used to keep track of cases.
Office manager Kathy Pashia was reluctant to discuss the issue when contacted by Missouri Watchdog.
“I don’t know if I can give you information on office matters,” she said.
The latest report from Hollister Department of Public Safety notes that $88,741 of the $112,609 award has been put to use hiring an officer to investigate felonies and head the neighborhood watch in the White River Mountain area.
Missouri Watchdog contacted the department and was referred to Sgt. Tim Matthews, who did not return two calls Wednesday.
Patriot Company Inc., a Greenwood-based construction business, received its latest contract through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to replace windows at the Robert Holley Center for Agriculture and Health in Ithaca, N.Y. The company’s report for the first quarter of 2012 says the project has been completed.
The company previously had been awarded a $264,721 contract to replace windows at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Fort Meade, S.D.