Board looks at accounting of funds provided to agencies

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By The Staff

Bedford County provides funds to outside agencies every year. No financial report is currently required from these organizations, but that could soon change.

Monday night, County Administrator Kathleen Guzi presented the supervisors with three reporting options. Guzi said that these were based on discussion by the supervisors during past budget sessions.

One option would be to require all agencies that receive county funds to provide a complete audit. Another option would be to require them to present tax information, a copy of the federal Form 990. Non-profits with annual incomes of $25,000 or more must file this form unless they have not applied for tax-exempt status from the IRS. Most faith-based organizations, regardless of size, are not required to submit this form.

A third option would be to require these agencies to account for the money the county provided.

The supervisors had two concerns. On the one hand, they want to make sure that taxpayer money that the county provides these organizations is being spent well. On the other hand, they don't want to place a burdensome requirement on the organizations.

"The money they have, they raise themselves," commented District 3 Supervisor Roger Cheek.

Cheek felt that a copy of the IRS Form 990 would be sufficient.

"I don't want to be sticking my nose where it doesn't belong," said District 6 Supervisor Andy Dooley, who also favored the tax form.

"It's all I can do to mind my own business," said District 1 Supervisor Dale Wheeler.

Wheeler said that all he wants to know is what the organizations did with the money that Bedford County taxpayers sent them.

District 4 Supervisor John Sharp also felt that the organizations should account for taxpayer money they receive. However, he was concerned about forcing them to spend additional money to comply with a new requirement. He had no problem asking for the IRS form from those organizations that already have to fill one out.

Guzi and Assistant County Administrator Frank Rogers noted that it would be difficult to tell, from the federal form, what constituted Bedford County money. Guzi said that some would receive grants from more than one source and the county's money would be lumped together with those grants on the form.

The board agreed with a suggestion made by District 5 Supervisor Steve Arrington and Board Chairman Chuck Neudorfer, that the issue be referred to the board's tax committee. Neudorfer said that the goal would be a regulation that provides for a complete accounting of county funds. He suggested asking for the tax form and a copy of an annual audit, if the organization already performs one.

In other business, the supervisors unanimously approved two changes to the county pay plan. One adds an assistant county registrar to the plan. This position was previously approved, but won't be filled until January.

The other change regrades 11 positions in the department of social services. Guzi said that the county's pay plan can't provide lower pay than the state pay plan for these positions. She said that the state has told the county that this regrading is a market adjustment.

District 7 Supervisor Gary Lowry agreed that a market adjustment is needed.

"We are turning over way too many social workers," he said.

Lowry said that social workers are starting out in Bedford County, gaining experience, and then leaving for jobs in neighboring localities that pay more.

The supervisors also approved an emergency services mutual aid plan with Campbell County. Guzi said that Bedford County has such a plan with other localities and that this plan has been approved by the county's fire and rescue committee. Mutual aid agreements allow Bedford County to know where help will come from if some significant event requires outside help. Lowry said that a wreck involving a school bus in the New London area would be an example of a situation in which Campbell County's emergency services personnel could be needed.