In 2013, the Barton County Commission approved partnering with the Family Crisis Center on an application for the Housing and Urban Development Emergency Solutions Grant. It was successful and provided much needed funding for the agency charged with helping families in times of dire distress.
The grant, which was approved for this past fiscal year, was used for personnel and shelter costs, as well as maintenance and operations.
However In June, FCC Executive Director Laura Patzner learned the center was turned down for this fiscal year’s grant, which would have been in effect starting Wednesday. This was due to issues with the county’s 2013 audit caused by problems in Treasurer’s Office.
“The loss of these funds would be devastating to shelter services and to our agency,” Patzner said. The grant amounted to $76,388, or about 10 percent of the center’s Domestic and Sexual Violence Center budget.
She will make a report to the County Commission when it meets at 9 a.m. Monday at the Barton County Courthouse.
County Treasurer Kevin Wondra and his office came under fire several times over the course of several months last year for the shortcomings. The core of the problems with the Treasurer’s Office was the failure to distribute $1.9 million in tax money from May 2014 that should have been distributed in June to assorted public entities.
Over a year ago, the county switched to a new system to handle its business matters. The change proved difficult for Wondra’s office.
These difficulties also caused delays in completing the county’s audit.
“Unfortunately, Kansas Housing Resources Corporation, the administrator of these funds, denied the grant based on the county’s 2013 audit,” she said.
Barton County acted only as a conduit for the grant funds and there was no county money involved, Boeckman said. However, because of “adverse comments” in the audit report regarding internal controls in the Treasurer’s Office, the KHRC rejected the application.
He and Patzner have appealed the decision Thursday and are awaiting a response. There is a chance that the City of Great Bend could step in and act as the flow-through funding entity.
In fact, Patzner said she will be asking the city to help us get these funds back.
For now, this is the only agency that has lost funding as a result of the audit, but Boeckman said there could be others. “That is a concern that I have.”
What is at stake?
Patzner said this grant addresses homelessness for victims of domestic violence. “These funds have allowed us to provide life skills, transportation, parenting support and other supportive services in our shelter program.”
The grant pays for a full-time position along with food, supplies, utilities, maintenance and repairs. “We have a very tight budget that cannot absorb this kind of loss making it necessary to eliminate a full-time position and reducing services.
“Barton County graciously stepped up to help us get these funds in August of 2013 and have been incredibly supportive of this program and our agency,” she said. The commissioners, and County Administrator Richard Boeckman and his staff have worked with the agency to keep these funds coming.
She said the loss does not affect the Dell Hayden Memorial Child Advocacy Center.