Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Official Faults Self on Flawed Grant Mistake in Arithmetic May Cost Region Aids Efforts $1.2 Million

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Official Faults Self on Flawed Grant Mistake in Arithmetic May Cost Region Aids Efforts $1.2 Million

Article excerpt

A consultant is taking most of the blame for the St. Louis area's failure to pitch for an extra $1.2 million from a special federal grant to help people with the AIDS virus.

No city is guaranteed a dime, and St. Louis may get lucky still. But most everyone involved locally wished they had asked for much more than $600,000.

The CIC Planning Group President Charles Buresch wrote the request for the Metro St. Louis HIV Health Services Planning Council. The council will distribute federal money to agencies that provide housing, home care, transportation and other help for AIDS patients.

On Jan. 6, the federal Department of Health and Human Services granted the council $1.2 million. That basic grant is based on a strict federal formula.

The foul-up concerns the council's application Jan. 14 for extra money from a discretionary part of the same federal pot. By all accounts, including Buresch's, the council should have applied for $1.8 million - three times what it sought.

HHS spokeswoman Patricia Campbell said the informal rule for four years has been for cities to seek 1 1/2 times the basic grant. But she said no city is guaranteed anything from the fund.

Buresch said he wrote the request for only $600,000 because of a "misunderstanding" over advice from a federal official in Washington. Buresch said he thought the council should seek an amount equal to half of its basic grant, not 1 1/2 times that amount.

"I don't want to alleviate responsibility here," Buresch said Thursday. "We goofed up. We just think we had some help."

Campbell said the official Buresch named was out of town Thursday and Friday. Cities couldn't change their applications after the deadline Jan. 14, she said.

Buresch offered "rough numbers," on the grant. The first $1.2 million will offer some help to as many as 900 people, but about 500 will get significant help. …

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