State officials review mistaken payments sent by Kentucky tornado relief fund

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A report released Tuesday by state officials on the disbursement of Kentucky’s tornado relief fund found that it sent out about $239,000 in mistaken payments.

The review of the fund by State Auditor Mike Harmon’s office was requested by lawmakers in July after reports of misdirected payments from the fund. The Team Western Kentucky Tornado Fund, which was sourced by private donations and gave cash payments to tornado victims, had disbursed about $42 million by the end of the fiscal year in June, the report said.

The mistaken payments represented a 0.57% error rate, the auditor’s office said.

The report said officials with the Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet, which handled the distribution of funds, were “aware of their oversight responsibilities” and put control mechanisms in place to ensure the monies were sent only to eligible individuals.

A separate review by the inspector general in the state’s Finance and Administration Cabinet said the funds were “managed properly,” according to a media release from the cabinet on Tuesday.

“After a nearly four-month review, we found that the funds were managed with complete transparency and in accordance with the law,” the release said.

The auditor’s report found the mistaken payments included duplicates, payments sent to ineligible people and overpayments. The majority of the mistaken payments were $1,000 secondary payments to victims. Those Second Assistance payments had an error rate of just over 2%, the report said.

The auditors also looked at a flood relief fund set up after the eastern Kentucky flooding in 2022, but that review found no erroneous payments.

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