A local nonprofit agency has shut down its services after what its board’s chairman said is years of “mismanaging funds,” possibly leaving hundreds of seniors without meals.
The Tri-Community Action Commission that serves Champaign, Logan and Shelby counties realized it owed $373,000 to different organizations at its March 20 board of directors meeting, Chairman Al Evans said.
The board then placed the director on unpaid administrative leave.
The board members then realized at an emergency meeting March 24 that it didn’t have the money to pay its employees, Evans said, and called its employees the next day to tell them to not come into work.
That includes Amy Herron, a chef at the agency that cooked food for the Meals on Wheels program. She said she was told not to report for work and that the agency was sorry.
“They hated to tell me as much as I hated to hear it,” she said.
The CAC’s Meals on Wheels program fed 250 seniors in the area a day and had 30 people on its waiting list at one point last year. The state is working with other agencies to fill the gap as soon as possible.
Evelyn Kuba lives at the Green Hills Retirement Community in West Liberty and has depended on the program to provide lunches to her for the past nine years.
She said the food was good and she enjoyed the company of the person who delivered the meals.
“I would like to see the program return to the community and to those of us who depend on it, count on it and look forward to it,” Kuba said.
The agency got into a financial mess by using money to pay for programs it wasn’t allocated for, Evans said, such as using its transportation money to pay for Meals on Wheels. It then used the next grant to stay afloat, he said.
After the agency filed some state grant paperwork with missing information, Evans said the state stopped providing grant money and the agency quickly ran out money.
The agency gets money from the Ohio Department of Transportation for transportation services, the Area Agency on Aging for Meals on Wheels, and the Ohio Development Services Agency for weatherization and heat assistance.
Out of its more than $300,000 of debt, the largest chunk is owed to the state development services agency. Tri-County CAC owes it $125,000.
ODSA spokeswoman Penny Martin said the state agency’s top priority is to get emergency providers to fill the gap left by the Tri-County CAC.
She said she couldn’t comment on any possible investigations into the agency’s finances or how the agency would go about collecting the money Tri-County owes.
The CAC also owed $30,000 to its employees for payroll. It ended up paying about $22,000 of that, according to Evans. It didn’t pay payroll taxes to the government, he said, and hasn’t reimbursed workers for mileage expenses.
The group now plans to meet with state legal counsel to decide its next steps.