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SAAA seeks fundraiser, CPA for audit

By Alex Bridges

FRONT ROYAL -- The Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging plans to hire a professional fundraiser to help dig itself out of debt left by previous administrators.

Members voted unanimously to meet with the three potential fundraising entities and to have each candidate make a presentation to the board. Members at a previous board meeting expressed the need to ramp up fundraising efforts to clear the agency's debt faster, possibly through a firm or individual with connections to national donors.

The agency remains in debt by approximately $735,000, according to the board Chairman John Hudson. Director of Fiscal Operations Jonathan Price reported to the board the amount includes $285,000 in the agency's accounts payable for fiscal 2011 and 2012-2013. The debt includes $150,000 owed to the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, Price noted.

"It is a positive picture; it's just we don't have much capacity to deal with the previous debt and we've been trying to," Price said. "It's just not possible at this point."

The debt amount also includes legal fees amassed as the agency defended itself in separate lawsuits filed by executives Helen Cockrell and Ann McIntyre. The agency settled the lawsuit with Cockrell when she and her husband filed for bankruptcy protection. A judge last week allowed McIntyre to file an amended complaint in her lawsuit or else the court would dismiss the claim with prejudice, Hudson explained.

The agency also carries a line of credit of $300,000 through two financial institutions. Of that amount, $100,000 with BB&T matures in June. Hudson said the agency is paying the interest on the loan, but has no potential to pay down the principal. The agency took out the line of credit to help fund the cost to renovate the former Woodstock School. The board abandoned the project when the agency's finances turned sour last year, but the debt remains.

"The accounts payable has baggage because ... obviously we could not carry the amount of expenses we were running up where we were drawing checks and sticking them in the desk drawer, running up 200-and-some thousand dollars with that, so that comes with a lot of baggage and that was money that we didn't have that we were spending," Hudson said.

Member Teresa Strohmeyer said, "I just hope our roller coaster with the numbers is over. I feel like we've got a better handle on the numbers now and that's really encouraging."

The SAAA board also decided Friday to seek the services of a certified public accountant who can perform a financial audit of the agency - preferably on the cheap.

The SAAA owes Yount, Hyde & Barbour in Winchester for the CPA firm's recent audit of the agency's finances. Likewise, the SAAA still must pay for a fraud audit of its finances. The agency must pay for the services before the firm will conduct another audit, officials have explained.

At the meeting, board member Wanda Shoemaker suggested the agency seek a person who could perform the same task for much less than the $20,000 owed to Yount, Hyde & Barbour for one audit. Shoemaker mentioned several possible CPAs she knows who could do the work. The agency would need to go through a regular contracting process to acquire a person's services for an agreed price, officials explained. The SAAA must pay the expert some fee, even as low as $1, according to board Chairman John Hudson.

The lack of an audit does not affect the agency's ability to receive regular funding from the state, according to Price. The situation will affect the SAAA's ability to receive grants.

Also at the meeting, the board elected Ann Holsinger as a member representing Page County; elected Angela Whitacre of Frederick County as treasurer; Shoemaker of Shenandoah County as secretary; and Travis Clark of Page County as vice chairman.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com


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