County commissioners voted three to two to contribute to eight county non-profit organizations, even though the interim executive director of one was convicted of stealing from a Dallas County non-profit.

The court will consider the applications of three additional agencies next week.

At the regular Tuesday meeting, County Judge Hal Richards provided commissioners with a copy of court documents showing the Senior Connect interim director confessed in 2008 to stealing less than $1,500 from a Dallas County Alzheimer’s agency.

“A thief is a thief,” Richards said during discussion.

He wanted to withhold funding until Senior Connect had completed the proper application and the executive director’s position could be discussed.

But Commissioner Mike Hunt argued that the agency’s funding had already been approved as a line item in the 2023 budget.

“I just don’t think it’s fair,” to approve funds for the organizations in the budget and then change it after the fiscal year has started.

Previously, the organizations, including Senior Connect, were funded on an ongoing basis with no annual applications.

This year, commissioners agreed in July to ask for applications that explained what the organization does, how many it serves, and the financial and management procedures.

A lump sum would be included in the budget, but actual amounts for each applicant would be discussed in October.

No firm decision had been made by the time the budget had to be passed, so County Auditor Karen MacLeod said she included the amount for each organization based on the 2022 budget. “That was a mistake,” she said.

Still, the commissioners could move those amounts into a different account and then allocate to each group individually, she said.

Hunt said he voted for the budget as written and would stand by it. He, Precinct 2 Commissioner Skeet Phillips, and Precinct 3 commissioner Terry Barber voted to keep the amounts as budgeted. Richards and Precinct 4 Commissioner voted against it.

There was also controversy over the amount allotted to Senior Connect. Traditionally, it had received $100,000 annually, but last year the commissioners voted a special award of $25,000 after the group had a cash flow crisis. That extra $25,000 was added to the 2023 budget bringing the total to $125,000.

The crisis involved the then-executive director submitting false reports to the state and irregularities with some funds, Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Mary Bardin and Connect director told commissioners.

That person is no longer with the agency and fund management procedures have improved.

“We tightened security,” she said.

She defended the current interim executive director saying that he has done a good job working on projects and at times, when cash was low, worked without pay.

Cates said that having two senior staff members in a row with questionable pasts is a “pattern.”

After passing the allocations as they appear in the budget, the commissioners agreed to discuss next week the applications of three other agencies that have not been funded in the past.

Those agencies are The Center, a Kaufman non-profit providing food; REACH Child Placing Agency which works to find adoptive homes for children in foster care; and Kaufman County Children’s Shelter.

Organizations with approved funding in the budget are:

• Hulsey Public Library in Terrell

• Child Welfare Board

• NCTCOG Office on Aging

• Lone Star CASA

• Forever Families

• Kemp ISD Library

• Crandall — Combine ISD Library

• Star Transit

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