The taxpayer-funded Tennessee Community Services Agency, which serves the state’s 95 counties, is bleeding money because of administrative costs, an audit report says.
The agency provides for a variety of social programs, including health councils, inmate care and adult drug courts, among numerous other things, according to its website.
Despite the losses, TNCSA officials want to press on.
The agency’s fund balance declined from nearly $2 million in fiscal 2013 to nearly $1.2 million in fiscal 2016, the report says.
TNCSA Executive Director Tom McWherter told auditors money coming to the agency has, for the past three years, failed to cover administrative costs.
The agency’s home support services, for instance, lost an unspecified amount of money because of what the audit calls “fewer clients and a lower reimbursement rate.”
The audit blames the loss of contracts with the state’s Department of Children’s Services and TennCare, among other entities.
TNCSA staff slashed administrative and program salaries by 10 percent in 2010 to reduce costs but last year returned those salaries to their prior levels, saying in the audit “the reductions were not fair.”
Nonetheless, McWherter told Tennessee Watchdog the agency should continue to exist.
“We fill gaps in services for the most part, and that primarily is the reason that we need to be around,” McWherter said.
“We receive no direct appropriation from the state. All of the money we use and earn we get through contracts or receive from service revenue.”
The agency does, however, sign contracts with local governments, as well as nonprofits.
McWherter told auditors the agency has “a three-year plan for structured growth.” He told Tennessee Watchdog the agency would rebrand itself, though he didn’t provide details.
The TNCSA, he said, recently signed a new contract with the Shelby County Department of Health to work with traumatic brain injury patients. The agency also plans to add five new positions in its Jackson office.
The audit also calls out the agency for failing to perform background checks on its employees, as state law requires. The audit says TNCSA officials too often failed to use Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s sex offender registry on employees who have direct contact with elderly clients. The agency, meanwhile, hired two employees without doing a TBI background check, the audit says.
The Tennessee General Assembly created the agency in 1989, according its website. For nearly 20 years TNCSA was divvied up into 12 agencies, with just as many executive directors. In 2008, those agencies merged into one, and one executive director took charge.
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