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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Problems With Spending Excess Funds, Help Please

    Our Dept. received an award for PPE, approx. $200,000. After the award we went out to vendors for quotes on Air Paks and Turn Out Gear. When we were finished compiling prices, savings were evident with prices for the air paks and bottles coming in lower than originally quoted when the grant was being written. Realizing that there was going to be substantial savings of approximately $40,000, we contacted the Help Desk to ask if we were able to upgrade the turn out gear with the excess funds. They stated that as long as we still purchased the same number of sets as requested in our original project, there would not be a problem. (The catch here is that we did not ask for an e-mail or letter confirming this allowance). We were also told we could use discretionary funds of $5,000. Well, after the orders were placed an excess of around $13,000 still existed. Bottom line being that the air paks were cheaper and the upgraded gear was more expensive than the original grant project specified. We attempted an amendment for a Fire Prevention Project as allowed with the remaining excess funds. As per the procedure for such a request, the Program Office asked specific questions about the proposal including a brief accounting of how our excess came about. Upon them seeing what had transpired with the purchases we were told we overspent on each set (pants, coat, helmet) of gear by $600. After explaining that the help line OK'd this, we were told by their representatives that those requests would never have been approved because the maximum allowances of $1,200 per set were exceeded. In conclusion to the whole situation; we were told the $600 per set overage was our responsibility along with the fact that the savings gained on the purchase of the air paks was excess money. This created a bottom line for us of approx. $27,000 in the negative that we can either try to devise an amendment for or pay back. As it stands now we have a little over $13,000 of excess money still on hand, the other $14,000 will have to come out of our own pocket if we must pay this back! The questions we have for anyone on this board are:
    1. Has anyone run into this situation, being told that shifting the money due to a savings was OK to better/upgrade their purchase of PPE or other equipment. If so, do you have any documentation from the Grant Ofiice to back this up?
    2. Has anyone been successful in writing an amendment for a Fire Prevention Project to expend excess funds? If so, what did you ask for, and can we get a copy from you?
    Please send any information that may be helpful to us directly to my e-mail address at: chief82@mycomcast.com
    Thank You


  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber ktb9780's Avatar
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    snorkel4, sorry to hear of your misfortune and it is too bad that you have not been in the forums and paying attention to what all three of us here have always said " get a confirmation in writing BEFORE expending any funds" beyond what the original applciations stated. As far as the Fire Prevention amendment, I would refer you to the Program Guidance for the FP&S grants for 2005. if you follow the program guidance there in filing your amendment and sticking to the priorities stated, you will not go wrong here.
    Kurt Bradley
    Public Safety Grants Consultant

    "Never Trade Skill for Luck"

  3. #3
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    Am I reading this correctly? A department was funded for more than what they needed so they are "upgrading" and adding projects....while departments in need are still being turned down flat?

    Sorry, this Grant program needs more fine tuning.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

  4. #4
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    1) No, every similar situation I've run into with clients has been handled in the manner that yours was. The limits are the limits, and that's the end all.

    2) As Kurt mentioned, any project eligible in the regular FP program is fair game for excess funds, only you don't have to write a full app. Just a short note stating what you want to buy and why.

    Also, check your numbers. If you overspent by $600 per set, you owe DHS $600 for each set. The way you have it stated that you owe them $27K and you have $13K extra plus you'd owe $14K local right now is not correct the way I read it. You can't use their funds to pay them back. When the spreadsheet is done, you must have spent at least your matching amount in local funds, not including the excess.

    So make it easy on yourself and multiply $600 by the number of sets of PPE bought at the higher price, and that's what you owe the grant award. So if it's 45 sets ($27K/600), then you actually have $40K in excess funds ($13K + $27K in unauthorized PPE purchases). And if you only have $13K in your award account, that means that you owe $27K out of your own pocket back to excess funds.

    And this underscores the part about calling Helpdesk: they do not have the authority to do anything with your award. They are there for technical help only. The FPS listed on your award letter is the only person that can approve anything involving money.

    - Brian
    Brian P. Vickers
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    Bones, they weren't allowed to do what they did with the upgrading, so the program is working as intended. They have excess funds because of bidding. It happens with nearly every grant. For instance 30 min 4500psi SCBAs have a limit of $5K, but I'm finding prices between $3500 and $4500. Can't help but have excess funds then.

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    MembersZone Subscriber ktb9780's Avatar
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    Brian beat me to the punch on that one( I hav to do math the long way, not in my head like "brainiac Brian" there, LOL) but, he is exactly right. Your computations are off. If I were you I would immediatley,sit down and have a full fledged conference call with follow up letter on EXACTLY what FPS wants out of you and then" plea or negotiate what you can with them or with the higher supervisory level". My experience has shown though, that this is kind of like battling or challenging the IRS; they win every time, so best to bite the bullet, lick you wounds and vow not to repeat the same mistake. The important thing is; you got funded... you don't want to screw up your chances of applying again by not following, to the letter, what they are telling you to do. Get your paper trail started and keep close track of it.
    Kurt Bradley
    Public Safety Grants Consultant

    "Never Trade Skill for Luck"

  7. #7
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    For instance 30 min 4500psi SCBAs have a limit of $5K, but I'm finding prices between $3500 and $4500
    Damn, I got lower prices than that, maybe I'll buy a hundred or so and resell them to grant winners for a little profit.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    "Bones' Discount SCBA, call for our pre-grant award specials."

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    Default ?????

    Maybe I'm suffering from what people call TMI... Too Much Info. But what I have seen is some people are saying is they would rather have you spend it then send it. If someone could shed a little more light on this. I have some money left over after all requested items have been bought, more than the $5,000.

  10. #10
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    Typically, the feds would rather have you spend the funds than return it. It doesn't mean that you can't return any unused funds.

    The rule for using excess funds after the initial purchases is: Any amount up to $5,000 can be spent on similar items in your grant. Ex. If you originally purchased SCBA cylinders, then you can purchase more up to the $5,00 limit. Even though it's not required send an e-mail on what you want to do with the funds, basically to CYA.

    Anything over $5,000 must be used towards a FP program which requires an amendment and approval. You need to describe how you will use the funds. In this catergory the feds are pretty lenient. You can purchase supplies, videos, smoke detectors etc. Depending on the amount you could even purchase a laptop and projector.

    Hopefully, this isn't TMI.
    Last edited by onebugle; 01-06-2006 at 10:32 AM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by onebugle
    Anything over $5,000 must be used towards a FP program which requires an amendment and approval. You need to describe how you will use the funds. In this catergory the feds are pretty lenient. You can purchase supplies, videos, smoke detectors etc. Depending on the amount you could even purchase a laptop and projector.
    And from what I understand the FP limit is $5,000. Anything over has to be returned. So basically anything over $10k would have to be returned.

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    No, there's no limit on FP funds. Anything under $5K is same project scope or FP, over $5K is FP or returned.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42
    Am I reading this correctly? A department was funded for more than what they needed so they are "upgrading" and adding projects....while departments in need are still being turned down flat?

    Sorry, this Grant program needs more fine tuning.

    Here is what I do not understand. XYZ department writes a grant for, say, 20 airpacks, compressor, spare bottles. XYZ department would be THRILLED to get this grant. They receive the grant but have, say, $10,000 left over. I don't understand why everyone feels they have to find something to spend that $10,000 on. You received everything you wanted in your grant, so why not turn the money back in so other departments get a shot at what they want.

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    I push for FP projects with excess because one can never do enough, and in most cases, the smaller depts don't put any money into this at all. Hardly enough to fuel the trucks, certainly not going to spend it on smoke detectors. But if there is truly nothing locally to do with the money, then send it back. Especially if you already have a well-funded FP program.

    Since the $5K cap, most are sending the money back, so the excess fund awards count that come out in September for the prior year have been increasing.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by BC79er
    No, there's no limit on FP funds. Anything under $5K is same project scope or FP, over $5K is FP or returned.
    Oh ok. Geesh, I swear I read that somewhere. Or maybe I just swear.

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    I golf; therefore I dress poorly and curse.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by onebugle
    .

    The rule for using excess funds after the initial purchases is: Any amount up to $5,000 can be spent on similar items in your grant. Ex. If you originally purchased SCBA cylinders, then you can purchase more up to the $5,00 limit. Even though it's not required send an e-mail on what you want to do with the funds, basically to CYA.


    Hopefully, this isn't TMI.

    When I called my grant spec. and advised her that we had 4,900 left in the funds and we would like to purchase some helmets with our new turnout gear and boots that we funding for...she told me that as long as i stay in the same catagory (PPE) then I did not have to write a amendment or request to spend these left over funds....so if I get audited and they ask me where is the amendment for the helmets, all I can tell them is what im writing here. You know if she tells me that I dont need to send in an amenment for these helmets then what can you do about that? Tell her that you are going to send one anyways and **** her off and her not approve it?

  18. #18
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    That is correct. There is no need to get permission for additional items with the excess as long its within the scope of the grant. It doesn't hurt to get an affirmative to what you want to do, so everyone is on the same page. In your case you called. I would just document the date, time, the person and what was discussed and place it in the file.

    The issue comes with funds over $5,000 which requires an amendement for the FP program. Clearly explain what the excess funds will be used for such as additional equipment etc. along with the FP program. Why. You may end up with a surpise you were not aware of.

    This happened to us. We had just under $5,200 in excess funds. I explained in an e-mail that x amount would go to cover cost overruns on the TO, x amount to purchase additional SCBA cylinders and the remainder was for a video tape for FP.

    A phone call later meant that we did not have to do a FP program. The gentleman expalined that cost overruns could be covered with the left over funds. Then excess funds could be determined. This brought excess funds below $4,000. Again he stated the same thing an amendment was not needed for the SCBA cylinders, because they were part of the grant. All of which is documented.

    It never hurts to check one way or the other. You maybe surpised what you find out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MSVFD18
    When I called my grant spec. and advised her that we had 4,900 left in the funds and we would like to purchase some helmets with our new turnout gear and boots that we funding for...she told me that as long as i stay in the same catagory (PPE) then I did not have to write a amendment or request to spend these left over funds....so if I get audited and they ask me where is the amendment for the helmets, all I can tell them is what im writing here. You know if she tells me that I dont need to send in an amenment for these helmets then what can you do about that? Tell her that you are going to send one anyways and **** her off and her not approve it?

    I was told the same thing by Mr &^^ .. We put in for 15 sets of turnouts and I put in an admendment to purchase 3 mores sets.. he said I didnt need an admendment for that.. just go ahead and buy them. We were about 5k under budget and only lack turnouts for our entire grant to be completed... He said if it comes across his desk he would approve it.. Vey nice guy to work with..

  20. #20
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    Default The Excess Funds...

    First off, what a nightmare "snorkel4," and I hope things work out for you and your FD.

    Your scenario really got me thinking about our project as far as the PPE concerned. I guess what I want to know from the consortium is if what we did is OK. Like many others I placed my confidence in the Help Desk when asking various questions that arose from the grant.

    When we finished pricing everything out and getting all our quotes, we concluded that we were going to have about $10,000 in excess remaining of the $89,872 we were awarded.

    Each of our 12 turnout sets ended up being $1308.00 as a result of some additional reflective trim, as well as one set with a Class II harness built in. I concluded from the help desk and the AFG Guidance that we could subtract the overspent total of $1,296 + $93 from the $4,999.99 "that Grantees may unilaterally use to continue or expand the activities for which they received the award." Am I correct in my understanding?

    Some of guys are bitter about not being able to buy more gear with all the $10,000 we had left, I am grateful we were awarded to begin with.
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