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    Question Excess funds

    We are going to have a considerable amount of funding left over after we complete our awarded project. Our chief has talked to an AFG rep who stated that we can spend up to $5,000 on operations and safety stuff like gear, boots, etc. but we CAN NOT spend any more money on the project we were awarded the funds for. He also stated that we will only get up to $5,000 and we have to ask his permission to see if he will allow it. He indicated that he would not allow us any for fire prevention, even though we don't have a fire prevention program now. How does this all work with excess funds?


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    Quote Originally Posted by ksmith31 View Post
    We are going to have a considerable amount of funding left over after we complete our awarded project. Our chief has talked to an AFG rep who stated that we can spend up to $5,000 on operations and safety stuff like gear, boots, etc. but we CAN NOT spend any more money on the project we were awarded the funds for. He also stated that we will only get up to $5,000 and we have to ask his permission to see if he will allow it. He indicated that he would not allow us any for fire prevention, even though we don't have a fire prevention program now. How does this all work with excess funds?

    From the Program Guidance
    Excess Funds
    Occasionally, due to successful competitive bid processes, some grantees have funds remaining after the completion of their obligations outlined above. Fire department grantees that complete the approved scope of work prior to the end of the performance period and still have grant funds available have three options for the use of the excess funds:

    (1) Grantees may use as much as $5,000 to continue or expand the activities for which they received the award. For example, if a grantee has funds remaining after completion of the activities listed in their grant agreement, the grantee may use up to $5,000 of the excess funds to purchase other eligible items without seeking our approval.

    (2) Grantees may use excess funds to create or expand a fire prevention program. In order to use excess funds for fire prevention, it will be necessary for grantees to submit an amendment to their grant. In the amendment request, it will be necessary to explain the following:

    i) What fire prevention efforts are you currently engaged in?

    ii) Where the use of excess funds would fit within your existing efforts, if applicable.

    iii) Who is the target audience for your fire prevention project and how did you identify this audience?

    iv) How will you evaluate the effectiveness of the requested fire prevention project?

    Excess funds over $5,000 must be used for fire prevention or option number three (3) below.

    (3) Grantees may return excess funds to the AFG program office. To exercise this option, a grantee must close out their award and state in the final performance report the remaining funds are not necessary for the fulfillment of the grant obligations. The grantee must also indicate they understand the funds will be deobligated and unavailable for future expenses. The deobligation of the excess funds will affect (decrease) the Federal portion of the grant and the amount of the grantee’s match.

    Fire department grantees that complete the approved scope of work prior to the end of the performance period and still have grant funds available may also use excess funds in a combination of activities from Options 1 and 2. Nonaffiliated EMS organizations that have excess funds may use the funds only for options one and three above (i.e., nonaffiliated EMS organizations may spend up to $5,000 to expand the scope of their award or return the excess funds to us) as they are not eligible to expend grant funds for fire prevention activities.

    Any use of excess funds has to be disclosed as part of your reports, i.e., mid-term performance report and final closeout.
    The way I understand it and what we did with our excess funds is that you can use up to $5,000 in the operations and safety program. If you went after a specefic area such as PPE then you want to stick with something that would be along those lines such as flash lights or if you went with SCBA then maybe a RIT pack, but I don't think you necessarily have to stick with something that matches, just as long as it remains in the ops & safety category.

    If you are in excess of $5K then you can spend up to the $5K on ops & safety and anything over that you have to spend on fire prevention material such as an overhead projector, or coloring books, etc.

    You don't have to ask your FPS permission but it's nice to keep them in the loop. You just make a funds request and put in there that you are requesting excess funds to be used to purchase XYZ item in the ops & safety category. Same thing when you go to request FP item. Just mention in your request that it is for FP.

    Just don't make the same mistake I did the first time and request an ammendment. For some reason I thought I had to request an ammendment to be eligible to use excess funds.

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    We used $4997 excess funds and then had to request the additional monies to be applied toward our fire prevention projects. They approved everything except for the tot finder stickers(Child Abduction), but the process went pretty good, a little slower than the rest, but a big boost for our program.

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    Default okay ...

    so what you are saying is that we could buy another complete SCBA unit and then spend the rest on fire prevention? Is there a limit on what can be spent on fire prevention? I see in the guidance that it says you do not have to ask for permission for the $5K ... what about an amendment? Is that asking permission or just letting them know what we are doing differently?

    If our entire proposal was for SCBA/RIT packs, is it okay to ask for a few sets of gear? Does that fall in the parameters? If we buy a couple sets of gear can we turn around and spend the rest on fire prevention?

    I know I'm talking in circles but this has become a major thorn in my side. We've never dealt with such an overage before and want to be able to use the money to its fullest extent. Thanks for your patience and help with this.

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    Forum Member Not2L84U2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ksmith31 View Post
    so what you are saying is that we could buy another complete SCBA unit and then spend the rest on fire prevention? Is there a limit on what can be spent on fire prevention? I see in the guidance that it says you do not have to ask for permission for the $5K ... what about an amendment? Is that asking permission or just letting them know what we are doing differently?

    If our entire proposal was for SCBA/RIT packs, is it okay to ask for a few sets of gear? Does that fall in the parameters? If we buy a couple sets of gear can we turn around and spend the rest on fire prevention?

    I know I'm talking in circles but this has become a major thorn in my side. We've never dealt with such an overage before and want to be able to use the money to its fullest extent. Thanks for your patience and help with this.

    I believe that you could buy another complete SCBA if you truly needed it. The question that you have to ask though is that if you requested enough SCBAs to complete your original project then why request another one? Is there something else that you could use instead? Not saying you couldn't request the other SCBA.

    I don't believe there is a limit on FP materials.

    I guess I should clarify my comment on the ammendment. You don't have to request an ammendment to use the $5K, but when you go to request the FP material then you need to request the ammendment. There is a link on the left hand side of the page under the manage grant section for the "Grant Ammendment." Click on it to submit your ammendment for FP material. The ammendment is in essence asking permision, but not so much asking permision of your local FPS, but rather AFG staff.

    I would think that you could use the left over funds to purchase a couple sets of PPE but maybe Kurt or Brian could help clarify that one.

    I know that excess funds are a pain. I'm still dealing with ours from our 05 grant. I have submitted the close out twice and have had it kicked back to me twice. I call the guy and he doesn't return my calls and then he sends me nasty grams saying to call him. Anyway, good luck with yours.

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    Default Thanks

    I appreciate your input and will pass it along to the chief. I'm excited about the fire prevention part of it. Our chief wants to spend the extra $5,000 on boots for the interior and exterior FFs.

    Tthanks again.

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    KSMITH, STOP! Before you do anything, get permission from DHS before you spend a dime extra and get it confirmed in an email and save it in your grant paperwork.

    Why run the risk of being asked to later reimburse the program from within your own meager budget? I have horror stories I could tell you regarding "verbal" permissions and "not asking at all".

    Don't go there it is a bad choice when all you have to do is simply "ask" first.

    Just layout what you are proposing to do and let them issue a ruling to you. If they wnat an amendment they will tell you. This is not one of those times where you want to feign good faith first ,and then beg forgiveness later.
    Kurt Bradley
    Public Safety Grants Consultant

    "Never Trade Skill for Luck"

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    Also don't forget that it's $4999 as 95% of the spending, so if you have to match 5% you'll have to spend $251 of your own money to keep the %s kosher.

    No limit on Fire prevention, and the FPS sure can't deny your plan for an FP project as long as it is something that would be eligible through the FP&S application.

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    Default Stop the world, I want to get off ...

    So ... even though the guidelines say I can spend up to $5k to expand the project without permission ... I really need to get something in writing anyways?

    Also, if we end up with $50,000 left over, can they deny us using it on a fire prevention program?

    We would like to get a safety house. We don't have one at all. We preach to many audiences each year and there is only one nearby. We borrowed it last summer for two hours and put over 200 kids through it in that time. It was an incredible hit. We've had dozens of requests to bring it for different events. The kids were the most attentive I've ever seen them. It would be an asset not only to us but our surrounding departments as well.

    The AFG rep our chief spoke with said ouright that he would not approve us for anything over what we are spending on the awarded project. He might consider letting us buy some gear or something that costs less than $5,000. Is there someone else we can go to? Any course of action we can take? Can he really make that decision.

    I really need some cold, hard facts (and soon) to show the chief so we don't get in trouble with this but get what we rightly should get. The chief means well but might put a little too much faith in the wrong places.

    I can't thank everyone enough for the input.

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    Definitely want to get it in writing for CYA. That way if someone else suddenly becomes the DHS rep for the area and says you weren't allowed to do something then you're covered.

    They're not supposed to be able to deny spending on FP projects, but for that much dough you might have to write something close to a full FP&S narrative to support the trailer. The PG has the wording you want. The PG says you can spend the money, this guy says no, there's someone over top of them to talk to also. We can't do anything contrary to PG, neither can they. So if it says we can, they can't stop us, it would be illegal also.

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    OK now the question keeps popping up in my mind; how did you get a grant or cut a deal where you have saved over $50K in cost?
    Kurt Bradley
    Public Safety Grants Consultant

    "Never Trade Skill for Luck"

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    Happens a lot in the large $$ grants, especially SCBA. Can't use a bid price at application time, have to go list to ward off inflation and price increases. Anyone that hadn't been awarded by Jan 1st had to deal with 2 price increases since app time. So when you run 50+ units and save $500+ on bid price the dough adds up.

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    Default Not really sure

    We used state contract pricing along with a couple of other quotes for the proposal. After we were awarded such a large grant, everyone wanted to be our friend. We put it out for competitive bid. Scott met all the requirements of the packs. Our original proposal totaled $322,056. The bid from Scott came back at roughly $260,000. We're getting everything that we said we were going to. I don't know how or why so I'm not going to question it. I don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

    Thanks again for all the help. I'm going to take this to the chief tonight and show it to him. I'm glad to know that he can't legally tell us no. Our existing FP program is slim to none. It's not a priority for the Village in their budgeting process. They're already trying to do away with the police department ...
    Last edited by ksmith31; 02-12-2007 at 05:08 PM.

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    We had to request an amendment with out excess funding to use it toward new mobile radios for all of our trucks. It ended up being $4997. The rest that was left over, we had to send in a narrative to our program specialist stating what our current program was and how the list of materials that we were requesting would play into that prohram and how we would measure our results. The amendment took a couple of weeks, but the fire prevention robot and everything else was approved pretty fast. But we didn't have that much to spend.

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    That's why these guys are the experts. I was just going off of what the PG says. Of course that's probably why I'm still squabling with DHS trying to close out our report. I didn't speak with our FPS prior to submitting an ammendment or requesting additional funds and I think that's probably why we are having the problems that we do. I would have to say though, with that much money left over I think I would want to talk with a FPS before spending anything.

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    Default I agree

    We are def. talking to him, it's just that he's telling us that he will not under any circumstances allow us to spend more than $10,000 in excess funds and that we cannot buy another thing related to SCBA. We were just wondering if he could really do that based on what the PG says. Now the guys want to buy nozzles, boots -- all kinds of ideas are coming out of the woodwork. I guess we're just not sure what we can be looking at -- SCBA stuff or gear, nozzles, etc.

    I'm pushing for the FP stuff -- we really need that for our community!!!
    Last edited by ksmith31; 02-13-2007 at 03:57 PM.

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    Default here it comes, bust out the rotten eggs and tar

    Sounds like a great score for kmsmith, good for you. You needed scba and got them. Small town servant michael says, if you got what you asked for with $50k left over how many more depts. could be helped with your excess funds. Don't get me wrong, a couple grand left over for fire prevention always helps. But c'mon I just read at least 3 departments in the latest DJ thread that got the "if we find more money..." letter. Think they needed scba too???

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    Default Touche'

    Small Town Michael ... I respect your opinion and to a point I agree with you; that was actually my first response to the chief when the whole conversation started. We would like to use the funds to purchase what we proposed in our FP&S application and if that comes through gladly turn that grant down.

    We were awarded our proposal with no request for a reduction for the cost of the packs which to me says our proposal was considered fair and the equipment needed ... would anyone blame us for trying to get the most out of our award? I feel it would show fiscal irresponsibility to our community to not try.

    We've not been successful every year in this program. There are other departments that have received more funding than us over the course of several years compared to our one award. Plenty of those smaller, less active departments are near us. We had to recently fight tooth and nail to get a new roof put on our fire house. The one we had was leaking water through the light fixtures and down the walls and parts of it were actually blowing off in the wind. Our governing entity couldn't find the money to have the project done and it took two years to get them to approve it. It then took another year to get it done.

    We're not looking to have the government buy all of our equipment, just help with the stuff we can't do on our own through fundraising and other resources.

    With the size of our protection district, the number of fire related calls we run each year and the lack of budget to do it with ... we can't just give up funds that could help our community.

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    Question

    Let's throw another worm in the can. We were approve for a stationary cascade system, gear washer and 28 complete sets of PPE. Cascade system was $7 over buget amount and we kicked that in. Gear washer was $ 930.00 under budget. I asked DHS about using it in the PPE for extra gloves and hoods, something that wears out regular by sending in a grant admendmant to do this. I was denied saying antiscipated over funding is not allowed. I was puzzled, so I called my specialist. Asked why. He explained to me that I was unclear about the washer. I led them to believe it was a quoted price, not delivered. He then went on to say that being I was going to use the excess funds in the PPE section, that would be no problem. Just put that into our final closeout justifying it's use.
    The Chief

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    [QUOTE=ksmith31;771600] that was actually my first response to the chief when the whole conversation started. We would like to use the funds to purchase what we proposed in our FP&S application and if that comes through gladly turn that grant down.

    Again i understand, my station roof finally got fixed after leaking the last 8 years. But you summed it up with the above. You applied for a SCBA project that was funded. Now you would like to use funds approved for an scba project to use towards your FP&S application. Thats 2 differant projects, 2 differant apps. and 2 differant funding priorities. What if you had a really strong scba need, scored well and were funded, but your FP&S was a weak proposal that didn't match funding priorities and would have not been awarded?

    This is not meant to bash using excess funds for FP&S it's a great idea. We have done it in the past. It's just the $50k that made me think.
    Be safe and good luck with AFG 2007

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