Clark County commissioners recently voted to pay Opportunities for Individual Change nearly $60,000 to resolve an error by a former Department of Job and Family Services employee.
Ex-DJFS staff told OIC officials they were allowed to keep $58,842 in federal funds for administrative duties as part of a re-entry contract without the approval of commissioners and the grantor, County Administrator Nathan Kennedy said.
After the grantor twice denied OIC the ability to use the money for administrative costs, Kennedy said OIC was forced to return the money to the county, and the county then returned the funds back to federal officials.
The Re-entry Coalition at OIC has received federal funding to reduce the recidivism rate in the county by providing services to offenders while they are in prison and upon release.
OIC officials asked for the funds late last year or early this year, Kennedy said.
“OIC feels like they’ve been promised and shorted the $58,000,” he said.
Kennedy said any contract or contract amendments $50,000 and above must approved by the Clark County Board of Commissioners.
“However, my understanding after talking to council is we are under no legal obligation to pay this. But the only person that can authorize a $58,000 change order or a $58,000 contract amendment would be (the three commissioners), which you never did,” he said.
Commissioners voted 2-1 to authorize the “moral obligation payment” for OIC’s “reliance on any of the board’s past employees authorizing any agreement when the employee did not have explicit contract authority to authorize OIC to perform administrative duties under the Re-entry Contract.”
Commissioners John Detrick and David Hartley voted in favor of the payment. Commissioner Rick Lohnes voted against it.
Lohnes said OIC is a wonderful organization, but the county is not under a legal obligation to make good on the contract issue.
Detrick and Hartley said they voted for the payment primarily because they didn’t cause the mix up.
Mike Calabrese, executive director of OIC of Clark County, said OIC staff performed administrative work after officials received $660,000 in federal funds.
“We appreciated the Clark County commission’s stance that they recognize the work was performed by OIC and they feel the obligation (to take care of us),” Calabrese said.
The Springfield News-Sun consistently covers county government.