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Posted April 27, 2012 | comments Leave a comment

SAAA begins new effort to pay debts

By Joe Beck -- jbeck@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- An improving cash flow is allowing the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging to boost its efforts to pay off a large debt that has hobbled the agency for months, SAAA officials said Friday.

The news of an expanded debt paying effort was one of several pieces of news that cheered agency board members during their meeting.

"We're starting to make a little bit of inroad in paying past due bills," said Board Chairman John Hudson. "That's a very positive development."

Jonathan Price, SAAA's director of operations, distributed a finance report describing additional revenue and carry over cash that will allow the agency to begin paying debts totaling $40,000 in May.

"May will be the first month SAAA will have the ability to start honoring its debts," Price said in the report.

The agency's debt of $254,000 has loomed over it through much of a financial crisis that erupted around the same time as the dismissal of the agency's three top executives in
September 2011. Checks made out to vendors but never sent were found in the office, and subsequent cash flow problems prevented the agency from paying many of them. The Virginia State Police are investigating the agency's financial records for evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Some vendors were put on a payment schedule and have been receiving money, but the agency managed to hold off on paying others until its finances strengthened.

Price said sharp cuts in spending, including a payroll that has shrunk by 57 percent from the same time last year, are beginning to brighten the agency's financial picture and will continue to do so in the coming months. Travel and office expenses have also plummeted, he said.

"Our expenses are way down, they really are," Price said. "We have cut everywhere possible."

Price also praised the recent hiring of Cindy Vance, a part-time accountant, as a major reason why the agency has managed to resolve several bookkeeping issues lingering from last year's budget. Vance is a CPA and assistant professor of accounting at Shepherd University.

"She's been great to work with, very knowledgeable," Price said. "It was a great decision, much needed."

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