$$'s used to build Metcom?

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Dec 11, 2002
CENTENNIAL - The Federal Government asked Colorado return $1.5 million in terrorism funds saying that the state misused the money.

However, Colorado officials say they will get every penny of it back.

For months, state and federal auditors have been concerned about the Multi Agency Coordination Center (MACC) building in Centennial. It's the state's new command center for local, state and federal first responders in emergencies, natural disasters or acts of terrorism.

The State Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) funneled Homeland Security money through the South Metro Fire and Rescue Fire district to pay for the state building. State and federal auditors found the transaction was questionable.

One critic calls it 'lost money.' The anonymous critic told 9NEWS that if the $1.5 million would have been used properly in the first place, it would have already been in the hands of first responders.

The critic says the repayment money could have been used for police and firefighters too, making the real loss to local first responders $3 million.

However, DOLA says an opinion by the Colorado Attorney General's office has reviewed the transaction, sublease, and supporting documents, and found the deal appropriate.

"I do believe they're (the federal government) incorrect; we don't agree," said Barbara Kirkmeyer, acting director of DOLA.

Kirkmeyer returned the money to the U.S. Government on July 3 after the federal government threatened to freeze future grants.

Kirkmeyer says the $1.5 million came from earned interest on Homeland Security grants that the governor could have used for jobs and growth opportunities.

However, Monday Kirkmeyer said the U.S. Government has agreed to give all of the money back.

"Essentially, we paid them $1.5 million and they're going to give it back to us and we're going to add it to our homeland security program," said Kirkmeyer.

She said the government agreed to return the money because DOLA has come up with a plan to use the money for interagency communications. First responders have said communications is their number one priority.

State Senator Nancy Spence was happy to learn the state will break even.

"Now we've got to put all that behind us and go forward making plans for the future to protect Colorado's residents," said Spence.

"I'm not the one who automatically thinks we didn't comply with federal guidelines. I don't think those guidelines were very clear," she said.

The $1.5 million will be in demand when it's returned to Colorado. That's because the federal government slashed Colorado's terrorism grants to $22 million this year, after saying it didn't think the state was likely to be targeted by terrorists.

"It means we really just need to be more critical of the projects we're funding," said Kirkmeyer.
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