Financial accounting practices questioned after annual report cannot be found

by: SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Wilsonville Community Sharing agreed to a lease with Grace Chapel last spring to use the latters building on Boberg Road. Wilsonville city councilors are a little bit more wary these days when it comes to the charitable organization Wilsonville Community Sharing.

While the city has worked with the group for 15 years, helping fund its work on behalf of low-income families, the upheaval on the nonprofit’s board of directors during the last year has resulted in caution on part of the council. This dynamic showed itself June 2, when councilors declined to approve a continuation of the group’s annual request for a city community service grant, which this year would total $46,677.

“I’m very much in favor of supporting our disadvantaged in this community in the most effective way possible,” Councilor Julie Fitzgerald said. “But … we had a presentation by board members several months ago, where they had come down to a very limited enrollment in their board. They have since elected more board members, and we had talked about how they can establish best practices for a board, so where does that discussion fit in with what we are doing tonight?”

The discussion that ensued wound up raising enough questions, largely over ongoing concerns about financial reporting, that councilors elected to postpone approval of the grant funding until they receive adequate answers.

At the heart of the council’s concerns is an annual financial summary required under terms of the community service grant. Recipients must provide an annual, detailed year-end accounting of funds received, and to date Wilsonville Community Sharing apparently has not provided that information to the city for fiscal year 2013.

This bothered Mayor Tim Knapp in particular.

“That troubles me if we don’t know whether we’re getting the reports,” he said. “That was part of the trouble we were having was getting that accounting of the expenditure of funds, which is a required report under the contract.”

City Manager Bryan Cosgrove, however, noted that the group has been providing monthly financial reports. He suggested this should be sufficient, even in the absence of a formal annual report.

“It’s a rollup of the monthly stuff they send us, and they’re sending us the monthly reports,” Cosgrove said. “Whether or not they aggregated those statistics and gave us a formal annual report is what we don’t know tonight.”

There was little else to say beyond that, as councilors agreed unanimously to continue the hearing over to the council’s June 16 meeting, at which time they were to hear from WCS representatives, as of press time.

“I would like to see the reports we say we’ve been receiving and I have not seen,” Knapp said. “And I’m interested in the long-term trending, what the quarterly reports do or don’t indicate. I think it’s part of the fiduciary supervision we’re obligated to provide.”

Boberg Road digs

Wilsonville Community Sharing operates a food bank out of Meridian United Church of Christ, popularly known as Frog Pond Church. There it distributes food and helps renters with utilities, housing and prescription costs.

In 2013, the group provided more than 1,200 services and distributed more than 24,000 pounds of food to help 4,020 people in 1,271 families.

The group was founded in the late 1970s and eventually reorganized as a nonprofit in 1997. In 2000, it opened the Wilsonville Food Bank and has since found that demand for service has outstripped its current location.

In January 2013, the group stated publicly it had identified three potential sites to build a new facility, thanks in part to a $240,000 community development block grant it was awarded in July 2012.

However, because the block grant came with significant restrictions the Wilsonville Community Sharing board agreed in March to pursue a lease agreement with Grace Chapel for space in its facility on Boberg Road, which the latter planned to vacate by last month.

That decision put an end — for now — to plans for the new $800,000 facility that once was being considered.

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