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Federal Assistance to be Awarded to 18 Counties Harmed by June Flooding

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; August 14, 2014:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced President Obama has declared 18 counties as federal disaster areas as a result of severe weather on June 5-10. State and local governments and electrical utilities spent nearly $10 million in response to and recovery from the wind damage and flash-flooding impacts.

“This federal aid will help our communities in rebuilding and recovery,” Haslam said. “State and local teams worked quickly to survey damage in more than 35 counties to determine the impact of these storms, and we are grateful for this assistance.”

Anderson, Bledsoe, Carroll, Decatur, Henry, Hickman, Houston, Lawrence, Lewis, Madison, Marion, Maury, McNairy, Moore, Perry, Roane, Sequatchie, and Tipton counties will have access to federal assistance that provides reimbursement for 75 percent of eligible costs. A presidential disaster declaration also includes FEMA’s hazard mitigation grant program on a statewide basis.

Three fatalities were attributed to the severe weather and flooding. Two deaths occurred in Lawrence County and another in Hickman County.

The National Weather Service confirmed two tornado touchdowns were part of the storm system. The first tornado, an EF-1 with wind speeds in excess of 80 m.p.h., left a 12-mile debris path across Lake and Obion Counties on June 7. The other confirmed tornado, rated an EF-0, touched down in Kingston, Tenn. More than 28,000 customers were left without power due to wide-spread damage from downed trees and broken power lines.

The disaster declaration provides FEMA’s Public Assistance to the declared counties for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and rebuilding and repairing roads, bridges, water control facilities, buildings, utilities and recreational facilities.

Additional information about state and federal assistance for affected counties will be released as details become available.

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County Fails to Bid Out Jail Food Contract

Sequatchie County officials did not seek competitive bids for more than $110,000 in food for the jail, state auditors found, violating a state law that calls for bids on contracts worth less than a tenth of that amount.

Contracts worth $10,000 or more must be bid out, state law says, in an effort to get the best deal for taxpayers.

Auditors with the comptroller’s office also faulted the county executive’s office handling of budget matters, in their review of finances in the 2010 fiscal year. Among the complaints:

  • The budget approved by the County Commission conflicted with the budget submitted to the state comptroller.
  • County officials spent almost $95,000 more than they had available in the ambulance service fund.
  • Expenses exceeded appropriations by $50,000 in a major general fund category.
  • In certain funds the actual balances as of July 1, 2009, differed significantly from the numbers officials presented to the county commission — in the general fund the estimates were off by $381,000.

Auditors also found problems in the county’s capital asset records, and said the county staff do not have the skills necessary to produce financial statements that follow accepted accounting standards. These two findings had been noted for three or more years, auditors wrote, leading them to conclude that county officials are “either unwilling or unable to address the deficiencies.”