07/08/04 — Tax money: Kerr demanding accountability

View Archive

Tax money: Kerr demanding accountability

Sen. John Kerr III is on target with his measure that would require greater accountability for nonprofit groups receiving state money.

Under his legislation, nonprofits receiving state funds would be directly accountable to the state Office of Budget and Management. It would provide precise rules for nonprofits on reporting their activities.

They also would be required to provide sworn statements to the Office of Budget and Management regarding receipts and expenditures.

Also under consideration is a rule that would require legislators to disclose connections they might have with nonprofit organizations. This was recommended by State Auditor Ralph Campbell Jr.

Legislators’ concern was triggered when Campbell released an audit of spending by a foundation created by then State Sen. Frank Ballance for a substance abuse program in Warren County.

Ballance subsequently was elected to Congress but recently resigned due to health considerations.

His foundation had been given more than $2 million in state money. But bookkeeping apparently was so shoddy or nonexistent that auditors had difficulty examining its activities. Much of the money went to projects headed by family members or individuals who had supported Ballance in his campaigns.

Campbell reported some $325,000 in questionable spending by the foundation, which Ballance ran.

But the public has every reason to be concerned that the Ballance foundation was far from being alone in questionable handling of taxpayer money.

With all good intentions, legislators are prone to provide money for causes that sound worthwhile, especially those involving such things as the war on poverty and substance abuse.

And the advocates of such programs also are well-meaning. But they also need to be aware that the citizens of this state expect value received from the expenditures of their hard-earned tax dollars.

Thanks to the leadership of Sen. John Kerr, our citizens are being offered assurance of no-nonsense oversight and accountability.

Published in Editorials on July 8, 2004 1:43 PM