KCBD Investigates: New concerns haunting city-funded nonprofit

KCBD Investigates: New concerns haunting city-funded nonprofit

LUBBOCK COUNTY, TX (KCBD) - The KCBD Investigative Team is looking into new concerns surrounding the North and East Lubbock Community Development Corporation.

City Council members, including the mayor, are questioning how and when the city grants the nonprofit city money to operate.

This is not the first time the organization has been under a microscope.

Over the past two years, KCBD has reported on conflicts of interest, possible embezzlement, and the lack of annual audits at the NELCDC, which uses your money to operate.

The Lubbock City Council granted the nonprofit hundreds of thousands of dollars back in July, but the future of the organization is still in question.

"To me it's counter-intuitive at least, certainly a lack of business and common sense when you are approving a budget for someone nine months into their fiscal year," Lubbock City Mayor Dan Pope said.

But that is exactly what council voted to do for the NELCDC at the July 28, 2016 council meeting despite council members, and the mayor, voicing concerns.

"You start your fiscal year and you approved your budget three or four months later?" Mayor Pope asked NELCDC Executive Director Monique Coleman.

"That is correct," Coleman said.

The NELCDC is a nonprofit, not a city department; however, the mayor said the majority of its funds come from about 75 percent of the city's oil and gas revenue.

"Miss Coleman, how much of your budget does this $363,000 represent? Just guess on a percentage basis. Most of it?" Mayor Pope asked Coleman at the meeting.

"Yes," Coleman said.

"So you are basically operating on the funds that were granted last year?" Mayor Pope asked.

"That is correct," Coleman said.

According to Lubbock City Manager James Loomis, past council created a requirement that the NELCDC provide an audit and budget in order for council to grant them more operating money.

"Around the same time as our audit is underway, we are preparing our budget for the next fiscal year, which I hope that you all agree is pretty reasonable," Coleman told council members.

"It is very unusual. It is completely, it's counter-intuitive. You do a budget, you operate, your audit goes on to look at your last year's activities; it really doesn't have anything to do with your new year budget, it looks at your previous years," Mayor Pope said.

Coleman said it allows her to make some predictions for the next year, an answer that did not win over Councilwoman Karin Gibson.

"They work all year on a budget that we have not approved. And it is not that I have anything against what they do. I have a lot of discord on how they work in this financial area," Gibson told the council.

Gibson was outvoted and the council approved giving the NELCDC $363,547.

"It's my opinion that the city doesn't need to be actually funding them anyway, with the taxpayer funds. I think it needs to be another way," Gibson told the council.

Mayor Pope said the nonprofit does have some performance standards in place, but he does not believe they were developed by the council and he wants to take another look at that process.

We asked if the goals of the NELCDC could be accomplished by city employees.

"That's a good question. I think they are additive, they are creative to the process. I don't know enough about what exactly they are trying to accomplish. I think that goes back to these performance standards. I know how it was set up and why it was set up 15 years ago. I think it is time we revisit that and really make sure the money, that it's a good investment," Mayor Pope said.

Coleman canceled an interview with KCBD in September that was scheduled to address these issues and did not return our voice mails.

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