The audit found numerous incidents where documentation was incomplete, not submitted at all or submitted after the fact in a job training program that was a part of the federal stimulus package. Several people are listed as participants in the program who were not eligible, and clothing allowance money was spent for ineligible purposes, according to the report.
As executive director Jesse Cleveland (who was not executive director during the audit period) explained, because of those findings, CAA was now listed as a high risk organization. This means that instead of simply submitting the final bills to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, CAA must first cover the funds out of pocket, then ask for reimbursement. The board’s $500,000 line of credit at Regions Bank is enough to pay the bills and cover regular expenses, but not enough to pay the vendors and contractors up front.
The board was given $1 million for the weatherization program for the current year, and the money would have to be spent by September. There is no way that is going to happen now.
CAA was able to complete 799 weatherization projects through April, including 414 in Talladega. Only four projects were completed in May. The money that cannot be spent will be returned to Montgomery to be reallocated.
In the audit, the board was ordered to repay $236,454.28 in misappropriated funds. Cleveland and Board Chair Dolia Patterson said they met with the attorneys for the board’s insurance carrier, but did not want to discuss details publicly because incomplete information at this time could lead to future litigation. Cleveland did say the insurance company was “doing what I would do if the money was coming from my household. They’re trying to reduce the debt. It’s just like if I was buying a car from you, I would try and talk you down as much as I could.”
Cleveland went on to state that there was no evidence that anyone affiliated with CAA had directly profited from the mistakes covered in the audit and that nothing had been stolen. “A grant was mismanaged,” he said.
Patterson added that the initial audit had not turned up any red flags, and none of the board members were aware of any problems until the more resent audit was released.
“This is still a great agency; we still help a lot of people and do a lot of great things. And I deeply regret having to send that money back, especially since we already had a plan to spend it,” Patterson said.
The board also voted unanimously to approve a set of standards for raising non-governmental funds. Board employees are not allowed to participate in fund raising during their regular work hours, but this does not apply to board members.
The policy approved Thursday creates a committee and chair, and does not preclude the services of a professional fundraiser. The board will be provided with relevant information for each event and the financial officer will be copied with all relevant records.
Also Thursday, the board:
• Approved the “Yes Ambassador” annual drama, providing that a venue can be found that the board can afford. The Ritz Theater, where the presentation is usually given, is closed until September. The board also approved researching a presentation in Oxford or Anniston.
• Received the results of Cleveland’s board evaluation.
• Approved the appointments of Tracy Mobis and Billie Small as low income representatives in Randolph and Cleburne counties, respectively.
• Approved the appointment of Gerald Cooper as Talladega Mayor Larry Barton’s representative on the board.
Contact Chris Norwood at firstname.lastname@example.org