NEON’s financial puzzle unraveled in document

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NEON’s “Financial Puzzle” is described in a PowerPoint presentation created for Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia.

NORWALK, Conn. – Leaders of South Norwalk’s embattled anti-poverty agency had a prediction for Mayor Richard Moccia 14 months ago – lack of city funding was likely to cause hourly reductions and layoffs affecting more than 80 staff members, they said.

The comment is in a PowerPoint presentation, “NEON Inc., A Financial Puzzle, a Proposed Solution,” that Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now (NEON) interim CEO and President Pat Wilson Pheanious said was put together to try to convince Moccia to restore $1.3 million in city funding. The June 12, 2012, PowerPoint was the basis for an hour-long presentation in the mayor’s office, an effort to unravel the agency’s financial complexities, Pheanious said.

Pheanious suggested a look at it might help explain what agency personnel are up against when trying to prepare monthly reports to board members.

The funding and budget overview begins with the line, “NEON finances are complex!”

NEON is financed through four funding streams, operating on three different fiscal years, the report says. Funds are drawn down monthly, quarterly or bi-annually, depending on where the money is coming from.

The state’s fiscal year runs from July to June, while the federal government’s fiscal year runs from October to September. The city’s fiscal year runs from January to December, the report says.

The draw-down quarters are June–September, October–December, January–March and April–June.

Not every funding agency wants quarterly reports. Some want them monthly, some want them bi-annually.

“In the past, NEON allocated the expenses of salary, fringe, direct client service etc. … across several funding streams,” the report says. “We relied heavily on the city of Norwalk for administrative funds to fill operating deficiencies in other programs.”

The PowerPoint report is attached below. Note the financial figures are not current as the report was prepared in 2012.

It’s the report that Pheanious has said kept her and “the ladies of NEON who have been working so hard to pull the agency back to together” up virtually around the clock to prepare.

The “ladies” are then-interim Chief of Staff Chiquita Stephenson, Executive Assistant Beverly Beavers and Comptroller Danielle Watson-Yates.

“Hopefully it would convince the mayor why it was wrong of him to pull the $1.3 million because of Joe Mann,” Pheanious said referring to the former NEON head who was removed under a cloud of allegations of financial wrongdoing. “First of all, because he was gone when the mayor pulled the money, and secondly, because this agency had relied that funding for 30 years.”

Moccia has not restored the funding.

“I’m not saying he didn’t have legitimate reasons, but his timing was not calculated to contribute to the ongoing stability of the agency,” Pheanious said. “Since then I have formed the opinion it was his very intention to pull the agency down. That’s why he was not interested in hearing what we had to say.”

Moccia did not respond to a request for comment.

One of his Democratic opponents said he doesn’t believe Pheanious is correct about the mayor’s intentions.

“I don’t think mayor wants to destroy NEON,” he said. “I don’t think that’s the mayor’s intent. … I think he’s frustrated by the activity that’s been going on there for a long time, and I think that it’s a frustration that a lot of people share across party lines. When you’re frustrated you say and you do things that give people the impression that you’re against them.”

Pheanious announced at NEON’s last board meeting that layoffs are imminent.

She said recently that she also has complaints about former CEO and President Joe Mann and the things that happened.

“I’m not blaming the mayor for how he felt,” she said. “I guess I’m faulting him for his not understanding what his position was going to do long term to the agency. And over time I decided that was intentional.”

NEON Financial Puzzle

Financial Puzzle Presentation 6-12-12


14 responses to “NEON’s financial puzzle unraveled in document”

  1. jlightfield

    IF you can’t get the fiscal year of the City of Norwalk correct in this presentation, then what else is incorrect? The City of Norwalk operates on July/June fiscal year.

  2. Dawn

    I worked at a not for profit with a ten mil budget. We received funding from ten different municipalities, NY state, fed govt and numerous grants and from many organizations. All or these funding sources worked on different fiscal years and were focused on different things.

    But they all got the same financial reports and projections. That is the funny thing about numbers, they never change. Unless you lie about them and try to cover things up.

    We had one bookkeeper. She was overseen by the exec director. He was overseen by theboard. Three times a year our acçountant would come in and see where we were. The bookkeeper produced monthly reports that were presented to the board. She punched some keys on a computer and a report was generated. It is not rocket science. There are programs that do all the work for you.

    You need to have a system in place and the reports generate themselves. Our bookkeeper worked for years to perfect the system and had outside help.

    Now I am sure the the complex budgeting systems are not a problem for the current director. With all of her advanced education. All the more reason to not have hired her. They need an executive who can understand how to fix the problems. Not perpetuate the old problems and create new ones.

    If one of the biggest problems is fiscal responsibility. You look for a person with a financial background. You also need to suck or up and spend some money on a decent computer program the the auditing firm you hire to clean up your books tells you to buy.

    Sometimes you need to pay to clean up your mistakes.

  3. Dawn

    How much do the other municipalities contribute. According o the report they serve Greenwich to Wilton and everything in between. It seems to me that once again Norwalk is the sucker.

  4. notaffiliated

    Moccia, Moccia, Moccia yet the one Democrat candidate who agrees with Moccia remains unmentioned by name? Hmmm

  5. EastNorwalkChick

    One of my current bookkeeping clients is a Non-Profit here in Fairfield County, they receive $1.6M from the town, $400K from the State, 35 ongoing restricted gifts for programs totaling $1M , approx. $500K from unrestricted donations annually, 7 checking accounts and 5 investment funds, 53 employees on payroll, one set of books that are current, reconciled and accurate…and all in a 15 hour week, with one bookkeeper, me, and one Finance Director who prepares the budget, BCR and monthly financial reporting for the board.
    There are these new fangled things called QuickBooks and ADP….maybe they should look into it.
    Something’s not right here….

  6. Don’t Panic

    The “anonymous” dem opponent is Vinny Mangiacopra. He is quoted in this article on this very site:
    NEON’s outgoing interim president and CEO Patricia Wilson Pheanious recently said she thinks Mayor Richard Moccia is out to destroy the agency, but Mangiacopra said he does not believe that is the case.
    “I don’t think mayor wants to destroy NEON,” he said. “I don’t think that’s the mayor’s intent. … I think he’s frustrated by the activity that’s been going on there for a long time, and I think that it’s a frustration that a lot of people share across party lines. When you’re frustrated you say and you do things that give people the impression that you’re against them.”
    Mr. Mangiacopra agreeing with Mr. Moccia? Say it ain’t so…

  7. loveforthecity

    She gets paid 23k per month and in 18 months cannot get the agencies financial picture in order? Another … opportunist receiving taxpayer dollars to benefit herself? This is a never ending sitcom of corruption and greed. CNBC should come in and investigate their personal lives.

    (Editor’s note: this comment has been edited to conform with our policy.)

  8. EastNorwalkChick

    They have the same group of people who created this mess trying to correct it…time for a new set of eyes to look at it.

  9. EveT

    Isn’t it absolutely typical for a nonprofit to receive funds from city, state, and federal, with different reporting requirements and schedules? The NEON presentation makes it sound like NEON is the only agency dealing with this so-called complexity. How is it that countless other nonprofits have this all figured out and handle their finances in a coherent manner, but NEON doesn’t?

  10. Bruce Kimmel

    If I remember correctly, one of the reasons the $1.3 million was cut, besides the years of frustration experienced by city officials, was that we realized in the midst of the mess that the city’s yearly allocation for NEON far exceeded the federal match rules; in short, we were — according to the federal government — providing NEON with much too much $$$ relative to their overall federal grant amount.

  11. dawn

    and i think we are still providing them with the buildings on flax hill and Ely

  12. Fred Wilms

    The Board of Estimate & Taxation withdrew most of it funding last year for NEON because of the well documented irregularities. We offered to consider restoration if these issues were resolved. However that was not the case again this year. In fact this year we reduced NEON even further by $50,000 after we learned that NEON had not paid the Carver Center for the summer camp last year. So we decided to fund Carver directly. The BET has the responsibility to ensure that Norwalk taxpayer dollars are used wisely & effectively. All of the other non-profits that we fund (such as the Senior Center, Elderhouse, Appleby Student Health Centers, etc.)demonstrated strong management practices and clean financials.

  13. @Don’t Pania, notaffiliated

    The omission of Vinny Mangiacopra’s name was an oversight. It was corrected Friday.

  14. shoegogirl33

    23k per month and in 18 months? No wonder she’s retiring? I personally have friends who work in non-profit, one in particular who works for a global children’s agency in DC that has been backed by the Financial Times as their initiative pick for 2013. When I spoke to her/him she was equally appalled to the accountability and these enormous salaries and number of people on the payroll. Is NEON in the business of helping the community? I don’t think so.

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