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Columbia must repay $215,000 for summer program

COLUMBIA (AP) — The city of Columbia must repay the federal government nearly $215,000 because of improper record keeping in a summer youth program in 2000.

The fine was ordered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, The State newspaper reported.

The penalty originally had been proposed at more than $681,000. It was reduced, in part, after the city produced records about jobs created in the summer program.

The program was supposed to employ about 400 teens for the summer but the federal agency said it could find no payroll records. The city was able to verify the employment of about 160 youths.

Elements of the program involved a pizza restaurant that later closed.

The federal program is designed to help low-income borrowers start businesses and create jobs in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

The report on the Columbia-Sumter County empowerment zone found that the city could not substantiate that the money produced of the promised numbers of jobs and that the city failed to keep proper documentation.

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