North Carolina’s environmental and commerce agencies have asked the state auditor to determine whether federal stimulus funds were handled appropriately.
In a letter dated Oct. 21, and released by the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources over the weekend, DENR Secretary John Skvarla and Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker asked State Auditor Beth Wood to look into how two programs used stimulus money.
The Weatherization Assistance Program and the State Energy Program were moved from Commerce to DENR in October 2013. The period in question was between 2009 and 2012, under the administration of Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue. Skvarla and Decker are part of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration.
The letter says the U.S. Department of Energy indicates about $132 million in stimulus grants might not have been closed out yet. The funds were to be used to weatherize more than 23,500 homes. The letter says similar concerns might involve what was then called the State Energy Office.
A company owned by U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s husband received a $250,000 grant through the energy office to reimburse it for upgrading a warehouse in Reidsville. That grant has been scrutinized by news media and conservative groups.
Last month, the State Energy Program said there was nothing out of the ordinary in how the grant was closed out. A spokesman for DENR subsequently said it wasn’t known whether the grant program was administered properly or not and was looking into it. The Oct. 21 letter doesn’t mention the company or that specific grant.
The letter says the administration has found the stimulus program complicated, and seeks the auditor’s help determining how to close out the grants, identifying any money that might be owed to the federal government, and making sure the funds were properly accounted for.