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The city of Springfield is not required to pay back more than $245,000.
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The city of Springfield is not required to pay back more than $245,000.

Feds excuse city for misusing grant funds

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The federal government is not requiring the city of Springfield to pay back hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant funding that was doled out to ineligible participants of a tuition program.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment & Training Administration on Feb. 11 indicated the city’s work to remedy the situation has been accepted, according to a news release issued this morning.

“As such, the DOL/ETA is issuing this one-time allowance in the amount of $245,511.88 as a remedy to allow the city of Springfield to use grant funds to cover the cost of services,” said Brinda Ruggles, a federal grant officer, in a Feb. 11 letter to Sally Payne, Springfield’s interim director of the Department of Workforce Development. “DOL/ETA accepts city of Springfield’s evidence that it has taken the necessary corrective actions to ensure that moving forward, all participants enrolled in the program meet the eligibility criteria.”

The letter indicates the city will not be required to pay back the $245,512 sum, if local officials can prove they have the “appropriate receipts, invoices, case files and financial documents in place to account for” the amount.

A special audit conducted by BKD LLP on the $3 million DOL America’s Promise grant last year found several local participants in the tuition program were ineligible.

A second independent audit by RSM US LLP marked 59 of the 376 participants as ineligible. The cost related to the ineligible participants was $245,512.

The city was awarded the grant in December 2016. It was slated for use through 2020 to provide free education in high-demand fields at Ozarks Technical Community College. In November 2018, the grant known locally as Ozarks Promise was expanded to four health care program studies, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.

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