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State to take San Bernardino's stimulus money?

April 15, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Millions of dollars of federal stimulus money are at stake. The state of California is now stepping in to claim money it says San Bernardino County hasn't used.It's no secret federal stimulus money is responsible for a number of jobs in San Bernardino County in many different fields. But the state is accusing of the city of San Bernardino of holding back and not spending all of its allotted stimulus money.

Now the state wants some of its money back to give to other counties instead.

"The county really doesn't understand what the problem is," said San Bernardino County spokesman David Wert. "Every penny of state and federal money has been spent according to rules set up by the state and federal government."

Wert says officials there are blown away by the accusations.

"Hopefully at some point we'll be able to sit down with the inspector general and find out what it is that she's concerned about, because at this point it doesn't make any sense," said Wert.

But California Inspector General Laura Chick, who's in charge of stimulus money oversight, doesn't mince words, saying: "It is unfathomable that in an area crying for help, the county agency did not expend its regular base assistance dollars that would qualify them to receive additional Recovery Act dollars. Do they not need them?"

If the state does in fact take more than $3 million, the county says a program that helped create more than 700 jobs would be canceled.

It leaves those looking for a job up in the air, while the state and county squabble over the money.

San Bernardino County officials are sure to fight this, and that's a fight that could drag on for quite some time. In the end it doesn't really matter whether the county is right or wrong, the stimulus money belongs to the state. And if the state wants its money back, it'll get it one way or the other.