04/19/13 — No vote on Wayne Opportunity Center $30,000 debt to county

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No vote on Wayne Opportunity Center $30,000 debt to county

By Steve Herring
Published in News on April 19, 2013 1:46 PM

Wayne Opportunity Center officials Tuesday talked about their efforts to get the center's financial house in order and answered questions from Wayne County commissioners, but left the commissioners' meeting with no answer to their plea that the county forgive a $30,000 debt.

The question of the debt has been lingering for nearly two months. Commissioners earlier this month said they were waiting on the center's financial information and revised business plan before making a decision.

The center's executive director, John Chance, told commissioners on Tuesday that the information has been sent to them.

Commissioners gave no indication of if or when they might act on the request.

The county funnels its recyclable papers and plastics to the center and receives 30 percent of the profit from the sale of the items. The non-profit center works with the county's special needs population.

"We have made a lot of strides in the last 60 days and continue to make strides," Chance said. "Just like you, we are in the middle of putting together our budget for next year. That budget looks like it is going to be in the $2 million to $2.1 million range for the workshop next year. We have made cuts already that total $377,691.

"Of course you know about the (employee) layoff and things like that. By eliminating the (vocational rehabilitation) program, we have cut client wages. We have cut our staff payroll. That also saves on 401K, retirement, insurance and things like that. We are looking at our other line items issue now, things like flood insurance for instance."

The center has been paying $9,000 annually for flood insurance, Chance said. The price has been negotiated down to under $4,000.

"So we continue to work on tweaking those things. Specifically for recycling, what we had asked you for last time was to forgive our debt of about $30,000 and to move forward with donating the recyclable material," Chance said.

"We have since revamped that. We don't feel like we need to ask you to donate the material anymore, but we would like for you to forgive our debt and help us cut our debt that we already owe. Right now, we are purchasing from the county the mixed paper, plastics. We certainly do appreciate that, and we will continue to pay the 30 percent."

However, there is a caveat on how it will be paid to the county, he said.

"Everything will go through Carolina Fibre (WOC's recycling partner). They will send us a check for our 70 percent, and you will get your check for 30 percent."

Commissioner Ray Mayo questioned Chance and Jeff Parnell, the chairman of the center's board of directors, about the $91,000 owed to GATEWAY for transportation costs.

"We are working on that," Chance said. "We just got a check in this morning, as a matter of fact, from Eastpointe to help us with that for $30,000. We are going to send that over today. We already sent over almost $2,000 so we are at about $60,000 that we owe GATEWAY.

"We are waiting to settle up with vocational rehabilitation that should be any day now. They told us they would have everything in line for us by the middle of April and we are there. They owe about $11,000 of that."

Mayo asked if the center received any financial help from group homes for transportation costs to send people to Wayne Opportunity. No, Chance replied.

A large part of the money owed to the center is past due transportation costs that the center has tried to collect, he said. The center charges $40 a month for transportation and GATEWAY is about $17 per day for a center client, he said.

"You can see the transportation they pay is only about two days worth for the whole month," Chance said.

In response to questioning by Commissioner Bill Pate, Chance said the center is audited annually.

Commissioner John Bell asked Chance what would happen to the people who use the center if the center was not in operation.

Those people, Chance said, would have nothing to do and probably would be at home "doing absolutely nothing" or on the streets. They would, he said, be left "to fend for themselves."