The Yadkin County budget was received with very little public protesting this year.
The leader of one organization, however, took great issue with the budget and still wants to see revisions to some of the ways the county conducts its budgeting process and policies. YVEDDI Executive Director Danny Haire is arguing that Yadkin County is not allocating enough money for YVEDDI this year.
Yadkin Valley Economic Development District, Inc. (YVEDDI) is a 47-year-old private non-profit corporation.
According to the organization’s Web site, it’s designated as the local community action agency, which administers human services and community development programs, funded through federal, state, county governments, United Fund agencies and other resources.
On January 27, YVEDDI submitted its request to Yadkin County for fiscal year 2012-2013 budget assistance. YVEDDI’s request was for $214,720, a $41,320 increase from fiscal year 2011-2012 budget allocation of $173,400 for the corporation.
On May 25, the county manager released the proposed budget to the county commissioners and the public. In the proposed budget, the manager recommended that YVEDDI maintain the $173,400 funding from 2011-2012 with no increases.
YVEDDI Executive Director Danny Haire corresponded with Yadkin County Administrator Aaron Church via e-mail on May 25 stating that “the significant cut of YVEDDI funds $14,654 is completely unacceptable, unfounded and unfair. … The total amount funded is $41,300 less than our UNPADDED request, and $14,654 less than last year’s already reduced budget.”
Haire went on in the email to state, “YVEDDI clients, especially the seniors in this county, will not accept this recommended cut in funding and subsequent loss in services.”
Church responded in an email to Haire saying, “This is not a cut. This is the same funding YVEDDI received last year.”
Email correspondences continued between Haire and Church through May 28, during which a May 31 meeting was set among Church, Haire, county commissioners and YVEDDI board members to discuss YVEDDI’s concerns.
After this meeting Church said Assistant County Manager Lisa Hughes sent YVEDDI a prepared list of questions that would allow YVEDDI to provide justification for its requests for additional funding.
YVEDDI Executive Director Danny Haire responded with a revised request of $14,654 in addition to the $173,400 that the corporation was budgeted last year.
“We firmly believe our request for $41,320 is reasonable, rational and responsible. But in the spirit of compromise and cooperation, we are amending our request to $14,654,” Haire stated in the revised budget request.
Haire stated in his response that the $14,654 would distribute $2,500 per senior center for a total of $7,500, it would provide $2,000 for the Yadkin County Domestic Violence Program and it would provide $5,154 for congregate meals and home bound meals.
In a statement Haire provided to The Yadkin Ripple, he said, “In the previous year YVEDDI received a 6 percent funding cut. We were told this was a 6 percent cut across the board in Yadkin County. At that time we requested that if next year’s budget looked any better, we wanted YVEDDI’s name at the top of the list to have our six percent cut in funding reinstated.”
“I don’t know if they asked if next year’s budget looked any better that they wanted their name at the top of the list, but we don’t have a waiting list,” Church said. “When you do a budget you look at revenues, expenditures and justification, you don’t base it on promises. So I don’t know if they asked for that or if they didn’t, but if they did it makes no difference because the recommendation was based on current justifiable need.”
Haire’s prepared statement claims that Haire’s correspondences with Church were unpleasant.
According to the statement, “When Mr. Haire contacted the county manager to discuss details of the YVEDDI decision, he was met with hostility and intimidation. An ‘attitude’ should never be part of any discussion when we are talking about funding related ‘life and death’ situations for Yadkin County citizens.”
Church replied that their correspondence had been via email.
“I don’t know what the author of the statement is referring to about hostility and intimidation because all of our correspondence the author appears to be referring to was by email,” Church said. “I didn’t speak to Mr. Haire on the phone. We exchanged emails. In a nutshell I offered to meet with Mr. Haire to review expenditures and revenues for the purpose of reconsideration.”
The statement said, “It appeared YVEDDI was treated as an underdog during attempts to negotiate changes to YVEDDI’s appropriation amount.”
“If you look at the total budget, human services have been cut drastically,” Church said. “YVEDDI has not this year. The year before human services was cut; it’s been cut, and cut and cut. YVEDDI has not been cut, and cut and cut. The author of the statement says that it appears that YVEDDI is being treated as the underdog but if the author would look at the budget and read it then it’s clear that they’re not treated unfairly.”
A public hearing was held on June 5 to allow for a presentation of the proposed budget, public comments and to allow the commissioners to decide whether to adopt the budget or make amendments.
Church presented the proposed budget to the commissioners with revisions that included a budget ordinance to establish a senior meals reserve line item in the amount of $12,000. The ordinance states that this reserve is to assist Yadkin County seniors in the event that YVEDDI does not have enough funds to provide meals to seniors who do not have access to food or means to obtain food.
A second ordinance established a critical medical transportation reserve line item in the amount of $29,320. The ordinance states that this reserve is to assist Yadkin County seniors in the event that YVEDDI does not have enough state or federal funds to transport seniors with critical medical conditions.
Both ordinances stated that in order for the money to be available, YVEDDI must provide documentation that it has expended all available funds for these items, it must provide detailed accounts of YVEDDI’s Yadkin County expenditures and line-level justifications showing how YVEDDI’s Yadkin County money has been spent on Yadkin County citizens to date.
YVEDDI’s statement from Haire said, “At YVEDDI’s request, additional funding was made available; $12,000 for congregate nutrition and $29,000 for medical transportation to meet current needs.”
Church responded, “They didn’t ask for $12,000 in congregate nutrition; that’s not true. In their revised request they only asked for $5,154 for congregate and home bound meals.”
After hearing public comments from nine residents, several of which were YVEDDI clients or staff, the Yadkin County Board of Commissioners passed the revised budget with the ordinances as presented. The vote was unanimous.
According to the prepared statement, the members of the organization were disappointed with the approval of the budget. “Mr. Haire was hoping that the commissioners would recognize the improvement in YVEDDI’s proposal quality, with service levels, cost per unit of service, and success stories being provided to provide insight into YVEDDI’s new model of services. YVEDDI staff was saddened to find out that the improved proposal was ignored,” the statement read.
“That is categorically 100 percent untrue,” Church said. “I can quote you their request. I know what the requests are so that’s just not true. We asked for additional information. What was provided did provide ample justification. To date we haven’t seen YVEDDI’s budget for this year or last year.”
Church said that the county has asked YVEDDI for a copy of the budget on several occasions, and that the county has only been supplied with a one-page summary of this FY 2012-2013 budget, which does not feature a line item breakdown of costs and expenditures, and the corporation’s audit.
“An audit is a very limited tool for obtaining accountability,” Church said. “Technically, an audit is an independent verification that financial statements follow generally accepted accounting principles, known as GAAP.
“It does not provide how the money has been spent, it does not provide line item breakout, nor does it measure any results that have been achieved. An audit is just simply a technical instrument that does not measure how money has been spent. It’s the same reason that the commissioners want to adopt the budget, not the audit.”
On June 18, Haire sent a request to the county commissioners to consider amending the general appropriations allocation process.
Haire suggests that the county consider implementing a grant application form that would require all outside entities requesting county appropriations to provide answers to the same questions. He also recommends that the county manager present these applications to commissioners prior to the recommended budget presentation.
In the prepared statement Haire stated, “He (Haire) is a Yadkin County native and resident and appreciates the fact that the county manager and board of commissioners have made many improvements in Yadkin County over the past two years. However, the current process for consideration of YVEDDI funding was a mistake.”
“The county manager, by statute, is the budget officer and reports directly to the county commissioners,” Church said. “I know how to prepare a budget. It was prepared in accordance with the North Carolina general statutes. If YVEDDI doesn’t like the budgeting process they might consider requesting the General Assembly change the law.”
Church also expressed concern at a statement in the prepared response that YVEDDI’s current audit shows that the corporation has a one month reserve and that the corporation has been advised to increase its reserve to three months.
“If their reserve is only one month I would be very concerned,” Church said. “One-month reserve is not appropriate for any organization. If the county had a reserve of one month the Local Government Commissioner (LGC) would come to Yadkin County and require changes; a tax increase or decrease in expenditures. A one-month reserve means if you get a hiccup or taxes don’t come in then you’re not going to make payroll. If the author’s statement is true, this is very alarming. It shouldn’t be recommended that they increase their reserve to three months; it should be mandatory.
“If the county had a one-month reserve we would be eliminating a lot of things because the state would force us to,” Church continued. “The LGC would not authorize new debts or bonds. We would have to raise taxes or cut millions in spending. An agency providing critical services should never be operating on one month’s reserve. That is very dangerous. If the author’s statement is true then there should be sweeping changes made immediately.”
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.