NORWALK, Conn. – More than $1 million remains outstanding to vendors of Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now (NEON), paperwork released by the agency Wednesday night shows.
The agency was at a deficit of $1.3 million as of Aug. 30, according to the financial reporting distributed at Wednesday’s board meeting.
The mood was low-key at the scantily attended board meeting, where there was no action taken due to the absence of a quorum. Seven of the 11 remaining board members were present. Six members resigned between Sept. 23 and Oct. 3.
New board chairman Mike Berkhoff congratulated interim CEO and President Chiquita Stephenson for the financial paperwork.
“I want to thank you for getting these done,” he said. “I’ve been seeing that each time we have a board meeting that we’re coming closer and closer to the actuals.”
The paperwork, attached below, shows that NEON took in $9,536,968 from Jan. 1 through August. Expenses were $10,884,675.
The cash flow statement shows that September ended with a negative cash balance of $1,002,254. The ending cash balance for October is projected to be a deficit of $528,718. November’s deficit is projected to be $588,632, while December is projected at $891,569. Those balances include the emergency funds just provided to NEON by the Department of Social Services.
Budget cuts have been made since the last board report on Sept. 11, the report says. That brings the total reduction to the annual budget to $2.5 million, but the impact on this year’s budget is $819,450 because the cuts were made as the year went on instead of the beginning, the report says.
Checks to vendors totaling $1,124,622 as of Oct. 7, dating back to April, are on hold.
Head Start has an annual budget of $1,435,308 for the entire year, the report says. There is a deficit for August of $126,904, the entirety of its cost to NEON. That includes $89,428 in salaries. Draw-downs are done quarterly, so there was no income for the program in August, the report says.
“This information is not new information,” Berkhoff said after the brief meeting. “This information was given at the very first board meeting that I came on, which was a couple months back. So when the other board members said that they never received this information, that was not true. That information was given.”
The information is in a different format, he said, and the reporting is getting quicker.
There should be more news soon.
“We worked straight through the weekend – Saturday, Sunday and Monday – developing two new financial models for NEON,” Berkhoff said. “We’re going to be meeting with elected officials next week and we’re going to be presenting one with additional funding, this commitment, this is what we’re going to do; and the B plan, no additional funding, we’re going to cut the services based on that.”
If Norwalk doesn’t pony up, Norwalk will have services cut, he said.
“We’ve got to trim down services,” he said. “We can’t keep running as it is. The past board was fiscally unresponsible. When the funds stopped coming in and they kept providing services, because it’s the right thing to do for the community, they had to make a financial decision. Nobody made a decision. This problem didn’t start now, this problem started before. It only got worse as time was going on. … What else can we do? If there’s no money flow coming in and it’s all flowing out, eventually the bucket of water empties out. That’s where we are.”
Berkhoff said four potential board members are being interviewed next week. If they join, and they are expected to, that will make it a functioning board of 15 members, he said.
No members of the public were present at the meeting. Conversation among board members was scant, only about six minutes long. Most of the time was spent watching a presentation from Larry Langhorn, director of Alternative in the Community (AIC), a U.S. Department of Justice program designed to reduce criminal recidivism.
It was formerly known as Alternative to Incarceration. Norwalk’s AIC program ranks No. 1 or near No. 1 in the state in numerous categories, he said.
The goal for 12-month recidivism for program completers is 32 percent, but Norwalk’s AIC was at 31 percent in the second quarter, he said. It was at 30 percent in the first quarter, he said.
Better to be a lower number, he said, as it means fewer people being arrested, he said.