Manatee County seeks $117,412 from YMCA; Y says demand 'unjustified'

skennedy@bradenton.comSeptember 3, 2014 

Sean Allison, president and chief executive officer at the Manatee YMCA, speaking with reporters Thursday. SARA KENNEDY/skennedy@bradenton.com

MANATEE -- Manatee County officials last week sought repayment of $117,412 from the Manatee County Family YMCA after an audit found the organization had submitted falsified, inaccurate or unverifiable billing records about county programs it operated.

A YMCA official termed county demands for repayment "in error and unjustified."

"We have substantially completed an internal review of documentation that will evidence the fact that the YMCA provided services addressed in your four letters dated July 28, 2014, and that your demands for payment are in error and unjustified," wrote Sean Allison, president and chief executive officer for the Y, in a letter last week.

After the Y did its own internal review of 1,800 pages, its attorney and the county attorney met Friday "to clarify any questions or misunderstandings the County may still have concerning payments," Allison's letter said.

YMCA officials say they remain open to discussions on the matter, the letter said.

County officials contend the amount of overpayments by the county to the Y, based on an audit issued earlier this summer by the county clerk, total $117,412, according to a letter signed by County Administrator Ed Hunzeker.

Allison's letter indicated the Y had already paid $668, and would honor any obligations for additional repayment it determines are due.

Hunzeker wrote: "The Clerk found that, in some instances, ineligible days (units of service) were reported by the YMCA and that, in other instances, documentation was completely lacking to support the claimed clients serviced or services provided."

Repayment will be due within 30 calendar days, however, the amount set forth in the letter might not constitute the total sum the Y owes, since the time period the audit covered was limited, Hunzeker's letter said.

Nick Azzara, county information outreach manager, declined comment on the dispute Tuesday, saying the letters were self-explanatory.

Allison also declined comment Tuesday, as did a spokesman for the Y, Adam Goodman, who said the parties are still discussing the matter.

Earlier this summer, the office of Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller R.B. "Chips" Shore issued a report substantiating allegations the YMCA had submitted falsified, inaccurate or unverifiable information to support funding received from Manatee County for programs.

Officials with the YMCA and the county have acknowledged problems with how contracts were administered. The YMCA has fired one employee, and the county has fired two, officials have said.

Audit results were forwarded to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office for review, and an investigation is underway, according to Dave Bristow, a spokesman for the sheriff's office.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

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