After a Wednesday report about this year’s Floyd County government audit, which uncovered several areas of concern within the county’s handling of federally-funded disaster repair projects, officials in the judges-executive’s office are saying they’re not responsible.
A report by state Auditor Adam Edelen’s office, released Tuesday, found the fiscal court had “failed to maintain supporting documentation for costs incurred on 55 small projects and one large project,” had spent $97,727 more on one project than was allotted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and had failed to keep its FEMA money separate from other county accounts.
As a result of the improperly maintained files related to the 2009 disaster, the auditor’s report says that the total cost of all the projects — over $1.1 million — has been questioned by FEMA, putting the county at risk of losing FEMA funding in the event of future disasters.
“He tried to tell the magistrates and [road foreman Mike] Jarrell,” said Lois Marshall, wife of Judge-Executive R.D. “Doc” Marshall and an administrative assistant in his office.
According to Lois Marshall, Jarrell and FEMA agent Kathea Newsome are the overseers and persons responsible for the FEMA accounting.
“He (the judge-executive) does not follow up with these projects,” said Marshall. “That is solely the FEMA agents’ responsibility.”
When asked for clarification, Marshall said that the judge-executive does not “have to follow up with the projects by law.”
Lois Marshall says that whenever her husband has inquired about the FEMA projects during meetings, District 2 Magistrate Hattie Owens and Jarrell “jump up and defend the projects.” According to Marshall, Owens was the FEMA agent on the 2009 projects which were questioned in the audit.
When asked about the more than $1.1 million in questioned costs related to the 2009 disaster projects Marshall said, “When all of those projects are closed out, most of it will probably be accounted for.” Marshall added that there were contractors working on those projects that the judge-executive didn’t know about.
“People don’t understand,” said Marshall. “They just look at the top person and say the buck stops with him.” Marshall says the county has had a history of outstanding FEMA projects, and that when her husband took office in 2006, there were still open FEMA project disasters from 2002.
“We want the FEMA cleared up,” said Marshall. “We want it over with, we want their standards met, and we want it behind us.”
Judge-Executive Marshall did not return calls seeking comment before press time.
County Judge-Executive R.D. “Doc” Marshall filed the following response to the questions raised in the audit: “The county maintains that the widespread devastation caused by the 2009 flood required additional funds to be spent in order to allow Floyd County Schools to reopen and repair all roads to allow school buses to safely transport students to/from school. The county will meet with the road foreman and the applicant agent to insure that all required supporting documentation is maintained in accordance with the recommendations.”