Committee pushes oversight after accusations of grant mismanagement

By Marisela Burgos - bio | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Metro Council's Government and Ethics Committee has begun its review of Neighborhood Development Fund (NDF) Grants and the CIF grant process.

Metro Council President Jim King requested an audit of NDF Grants after accusations of money mismanagement against Councilwoman Judy Green. Allegations surfaced from a Metro Public Integrity Unit investigation, in 2009, where it stated Green directed some of the money given to the group '100 Black Men' of Louisville to other organizations without approval from the council.

The Government and Ethics Committee invited Steve Rowland, Chief Financial Officer for the Office of management and Budget and Mike Norman, Internal Auditor for the Metro to speak, Wednesday evening. Norman said 145 letters have been issued to NDF grant recipients of more than $5,000 for fiscal year 2010 and the 2011 fiscal year. The letter asks the groups to submit a report within 30 days of their expenses and supporting documentation, including receipts and invoices. The city does not expect to hire outside help to review the paperwork.

"If there is no information turned in that's going to be a high risk -most likely they're going to get a visit from us and our goal when we audit grants: was the money used as intended," Norman said.

If the recipients fail to submit a report, the letter indicates it could prevent the organization from getting NDF grants in the future.

Councilwoman Judy Green who is not on the committee, joined the meeting, asking questions and making suggestions.

"I know we're going back and looking at these grants for the last two years or maybe even four. I would even suggest four years. Have you thought about starting with the grants of the higher amounts? For instance the NDF's have been given for $25,000, $35,000, $15,000 and looking at it that way," Green asked.

Norman responded, "absolutely. The ones {with} higher amounts are going to be a higher priority than smaller ones. They should still be looked at".

While Norman said his role will focus on looking at any possible problems from the past, Rowland will work on a plan for the future. From now on, he said, grant recipients will have to report how they spend money -each quarter. Rowland said there will also be one person, from his office, who will monitor all grants -from now on.

"my focus is on the future that this is going to be a continuing program and it's not a one time event. Now what we are trying to do is catch up," Rowland said.

During the meeting, Councilwoman Green said oversight of the NDF Grants is something she knows the council's financial advisor has requested all along.

"I just want to give kudos to our financial advisor who has been saying for years that NDF's ought to be monitored by someone," Green said.

Green still faces an ethics commission hearing that is expected at the end of the month.

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