HAYWARD -- The future of a beleaguered countywide assistance program seemed to grow a little murkier this week, as some public officials overseeing the organization were wary of their cities offering any money to keep it afloat.
During the governing board meeting of the Alameda County Associated Community Action Program -- commonly called ACAP -- on Wednesday, representatives from Albany, Emeryville and Union City voiced concerns about providing city funds to help keep the unstable organization alive.
"I think we have to seriously discuss the city's future with ACAP," said Jim Navarro, Union City's vice mayor and that city's representative on the ACAP board.
The program is facing serious financial issues after terminating its executive director this month and discovering it had more than $400,000 in unpaid bills.
The group could not meet payroll Feb. 18, and was bailed out Tuesday by the county board of supervisors, which increased the amount of money in a trust it started for the group by $75,000 so the program could pay its 28 employees.
To help the group meet its operational needs in 2009, the county had established a $250,000 trust, which has not been paid back.
The county supervisors approved loaning the group enough to meet payroll despite having grave concerns about its future. The supervisors also asked program board members to go back to their respective city councils and discuss splitting program costs evenly between the county and the 12 cities that make up the joint powers group -- every city in the county except Oakland and Berkeley.
ACAP -- which offers myriad youth, employment and re-entry services to low-income residents with its $3.5 million budget -- operates with the assistance of a variety of public and private funding, primarily through the Federal Community Services Block Grant.
The program's board agreed to go back to the respective councils; however, some members said they do not feel the organization does enough in their community to warrant emergency funds.
"We have received almost no services form ACAP," said Nora Davis, Emeryville's mayor and representative on the ACAP board. "When it comes to what appears to be some serious deficiencies in ACAP management, you can't look at these cities to lay out funds to make up for that mismanagement."
County Supervisor Nate Miley, the county's representative on the board and the supervisor who pushed the county's action on the emergency loan Tuesday, acknowledged his colleagues' concerns.
"I can understand where they're coming from," said Miley, whose daughter works for the program. "I can see them having concerns. I have empathy."
Miley added, however, that the program must first be put on stable ground -- then a decision about its future can be made.
Attorneys from the county and cities represented in ACAP were expected to meet this week to discuss the group's troubling issues.
The board also directed Sam Tuttelman -- the group's acting interim executive director and employment services director for the county's social services agency -- to explore downsizing the program in an effort to bring costs in line with revenue.
Tuttelman confirmed that an investigation by a third party has begun to look into allegations made by current and former employees concerning the group's former director, Nanette Dillard. The allegations concern financial mismanagement and operational mismanagement of the group.
The investigation will be paid for by the Alameda County's Risk Management fund.
The program's board also agreed to enter into a contract with the Oakland-based law firm Wendell, Rosen, Black and Dean for outside counsel. The firm is experienced in representing government agencies. Zachary Wasserman said attorney fees should cost between $250 and $450 an hour. The board capped its usage of outside counsel at $20,000.