S.D. officials working on plan to get back COVID-19 grants that were overpaid to businesses

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Money

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Rough numbers presented to state lawmakers Tuesday indicate that about 140 South Dakota businesses originally received larger COVID-19 grants than they should have and about 30 got less than they were due.

Together those ‘overs’ and ‘unders’ totaled about $4 million, state Finance Commissioner Liza Clark told the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee. “So far it’s been minimal and we’ve paid out anybody who was underpaid,” she said.

The $488.8 million of grants so far have gone to 5,857 businesses, non-profits and health care providers throughout South Dakota. The money was part of the $1.25 billion that South Dakota state government received last year as its share of coronavirus aid from the federal government.

Another 41 grant applications totaling more than $3.9 million are still being processed. They’ll be done May 19 or sooner. There were 221 applications declared ineligible and 4,262 that didn’t qualify for the $500 minimum award. Applicants had to show a net loss of income in their operations.

Six businesses that received overpayments have voluntarily returned about $802,000, according to Colin Keeler. He’s director of financial systems and operations in the state Bureau of Finance and Management. “There will be more, no doubt,” he said.

Clark, who runs the bureau, said her staff is working with businesses that appear to have been overpaid to ensure their financial data were submitted accurately. She said the businesses aren’t being charged interest and repayment plans will be worked out for those needing it.

They face a December 31 deadline for settling the accounts, although Clark said it’s possible they could have 90 days more, depending on what federal officials decide. “If we have a plan in place, is it enough?” she said.

If an overpayment gets sent to the state obligation recover center, the normal arrangement calls for a 20% surcharge to pay the center’s operator. Clark said the surcharge rate for overpayments is in negotiation.

Representative Steven Haugaard asked whether the bureau has sent any overpayment case to the state Office of Attorney General or to a county-level prosecutor to pursue.

“Not yet,” Clark replied.

Haugaard asked about scams.

“I’m not quite ready to discuss that yet,” Clark said.

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