Crossroads board agrees to forensic audit
The Crossroads Community Services Board of Directors narrowly agreed to conduct a forensic audit of the organization’s finances Tuesday, June 22, but who will pay what is expected to be a more than $100,000 cost remains unclear.
In a vote of 5-3 with one person abstaining, the board agreed to a motion by Buckingham Supervisor Thomas Jordan Miles III to conduct a forensic audit for the past three fiscal years and also audit the policies and internal controls of Crossroads’ major programs to see how they can be improved and better implemented.
Miles’ motion called for the chair to create an ad hoc audit committee to oversee the process and issue a request for proposal to conduct the audit.
The forensic audit had been requested by the counties of Prince Edward, Charlotte, Cumberland, Buckingham and Nottoway. Some of the resolutions from the counties made it clear they would withhold local funding to Crossroads unless the audit was agreed to by the Crossroads’ board.
Lunenburg Supervisor Wayne Hoover said he had not brought the issue before his board hoping a compromise could be worked out between the Crossroads’ board members.
The move that seems to be driving the dissatisfaction from local county boards is a Payroll Protection Plan of more than $2.3 million that Crossroads received in 2020. Many Crossroads board members were not aware the organization had applied for or received the money. The loan was recently forgiven by the federal government. The county boards have also questioned the operations and polices of Crossroads under former Executive Director Susan Baker who was relieved of her duties by the Crossroads board at its May meeting.
“If we don’t conduct this audit, which has been requested by nearly unanimous votes on all five boards, we are looking at losing potentially over $200,000 from the county level, and obviously we don’t want to do that,” Miles said. “You would be in a world of hurt then.”
But still, some members of the board of directors felt that voting for the detailed audit without knowing the cost or spelling out who was going to pay for it was not a responsible decision.
“Are we saying that Crossroads is going to absorb 100% of this $100-grand forensic audit?” Hoover said after making it clear Lunenburg County taxpayers would not pay for the audit. “Because in one breath, the people (staff members) are sitting around here are telling us they haven’t had a raise in five or 10 years.
“So what we’re saying is we’re going to write a blank check… Just show me the tree the money is growing on because I’m not seeing it.”
Miles said Crossroads should pay for the audit and should have the funds available given the $2.4 million PPP loan and staff savings from vacant positions.
Prince Edward County Supervisor Dr. Odessa Pride said the board owes it to the future executive director to move forward with the audit, especially since a majority of the counties the organization serves have requested the audit.
“We owe it to that new director who is coming in to have a clean slate with everything,” she said. “We owe it to ourselves as board members. We aren’t blaming anybody, however, we need to have a clean record, and like I said before, five out of seven have already agreed.”
The board has not received an estimate for the cost of forensic audit that goes back three years, but Interim Director Pam Wallace pointed out that the organization’s annual regular audit costs $48,000.
Miles, Pride, Nottoway County Supervisor Helen Simmons, Martha Holman (a citizen member from Buckingham County) and Cumberland County Supervisor Robert Saunders voted for the audit. Hoover, Abigail Barnes (a citizen member from Lunenburg County) and Charlotte County Supervisor Butch Hamlett voted against the motion. Prince Edward County citizen member Bernetta Watkins was present but abstained from the vote.
Because of the uncertainty about the PPP loan and the organization’s finances in general, the board refused to approve the monthly financial report, instead agreeing to table it.