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The city of Florence has cut funding to a non-profit that helps the homeless. City council members voted Tuesday night to suspend their $60,000 contract with Crossroads Community Outreach. Florence councilperson, Katrina Simmons, was the only vote to keep the contract.
Technically the city has only paid $15,000 of the contract after the city said the non-profit was not complying with the contract.
"It really left us no choice than to ask for the termination of the contract," said Melissa Bailey, Florence's director of planning and community development.
Bailey said this is the contract crossroads community outreach signed with the city had certain stipulations, like documenting the times they would help the homeless population they were serving. Bailey said in order to get the contract in the first place Crossroads had to provide an example of an intake form. They did that, but then once they got the contract Bailey said they weren't providing the documentation or intake forms.
"It was for those failures to provide contractual items that city council was really left with no choice," said Bailey.
In total the city paid crossroads community outreach $15,000 for this grant cycle, but last year it was paid $60,000 since they were in compliance with their contract. Bailey said Crossroads couldn't provide them with the documentation they were asking for on the 2019 grant cycle.
"We didn't have any of that provided as support for the money they are spending," said Bailey.
Crossroads Community Outreach Director, Kimberly Jackson, said that's not true. She showed us a stack full of documents where they helped people. Jackson claims the city changed their policy in August and wanted them to document every instance where they helped the homeless and wanted those documents to go back the last 8 months. Jackson said they weren't keeping documents on every interaction.
"Capturing actual day by day time frames from an 8 month time period prior just was almost impossible without putting information down that was just a guesstimate," said Jackson.
We filed an open records request with the city to look at Crossroads financial statements. Jackson told us she pays herself nineteen dollars and some change an hour, but while we looked through the documents we found where she paid herself around $30,000 over an 8 month period from August 2018 to March 2019 in large sums. We asked Jackson if it was normal to pay herself in large lump sums.
"Yes because that's how our money comes in. When we started last year we didn't have a stock of money in the bank. So instead of me paying out when we got it and running us in the hole I don't do that. Because other than that were going to go in the hole so I just wait and sometimes I wouldn't pay myself at all," said Jackson.
We went over these financial statements with Jackson. Asking her about various charges from fast food places, uhaul rentals, cellphones, Dave and Busters. She said these documents are are all of her financials, even personal one mixed in.
"We have to give them everything we've spent out so I had to print out my financials and show them everything we've spent out for. What we specifically sent in to them and asked for reimbursement for are only the things that are allowed in that contract," said Jackson.
Jackson said she has nothing to hide and has given the city everything they've asked for. She said despite their contract being terminated they're going to continue serving the homeless community. Jackson said they have about a 100,000 budget and a lot of funds come from donations.
"This has all been a lot of shots fired and that's why I was hesitant about doing this because we have not had a change to sit down and have a conversation about any of this with the city," said Jackson.
Jackson hopes the city council members are open to sitting down and talking with them. The city said Crossroads can still apply for grants in the future. As for the money they were supposed to get from the city that will now go to other non-profits in the area.
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