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.”