Technical assistance

With a $ 2 million deficit, impending layoffs at the Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity


Less than a month after the Jefferson County Committee for the Economic Opportunities Board fired executive director Sharon Myles and terminated five personal service contracts, layoffs looming at the agency after the board recently learned of a $ 2 million financial shortfall, board chairman Gary said Richardson.

“We were made to believe that we had a certain amount of money,” Richardson said. “It is not true.”

Learn more about JCCEO:

JCCEO fires its managing director, 5 others

Richardson attributes the shortfall to “excessive and inappropriate spending,” including “money that was intended for one grant and used by another. It was just gross mismanagement of the agency.

In September, JCCEO signed a contract with Mississippi Early LLC, a national provider of training and technical assistance, according to its website, to oversee the agency’s business operations after Myles fired CFO Richard Wells in March 2020 and his successor Jaqueline Hill, who was hired on November 16, 2020, then dismissed on February 17, 2021.

Mississippi Early was to be paid $ 1,000 per day for three days per week of service from September 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021, according to a report prepared for the board by attorney Thomas W. Scroggins of Constangy, Brooks, Smith and Prophete LLP on October 12, 2021 and obtained by

This contract stipulates that Ann Massa is “the key personnel”, according to the report. Although a rate of pay for Massa was not reflected in JCCEO’s payroll system, according to Scroggins, she was paid $ 31,200 on August 19, 2021, $ 7,800 on August 27, 2021, $ 27,000 on September 7, 2021, $ 7,800 on September 10, 2021 and $ 6,000 on September 24, 2021 – totaling $ 79,800 in just over a month.

Massa’s contract was among those terminated by JCCEO’s board of directors on November 1.

The board learned of the deficit, Richardson said, last Thursday at a special meeting called – because until last week only Myles had access to JCCEO’s financial accounts. A day later, the agency missed pay.

“Payroll is downloaded by direct deposit at midnight [the night before]”Richardson said.” We woke up to find nothing was there. “

The employees were paid later the same day after interim executive director Brenda Singellos was informed by Mississippi Early of an account for $ 186,000, which could be transferred to cover payroll. (The total amount needed to cover bi-weekly payroll is around $ 400,000, said Richardson.)

“[Missing payroll] didn’t have to happen, ”said Richardson. “We had money … to make this payroll. [It] Could have been avoided if we had received the true financial information, which is indicative of the fact that we did not receive reliable financial information about the organization. “’s efforts to reach Sharon Myles have been unsuccessful.

Richardson admits that the agency now does not have the funds to deal with the payroll until the end of its fiscal year, which is December 31, 2021.

The board is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. on Monday to determine how to rectify the gap.

“We have a lot of problems,” says Richardson. “We have to adjust the transaction to what’s in the bank. We just need to make adjustments based on what we know we have on hand. This is where we are at.

Richardson says the board has been alerted to the possible financial problems of three “whistleblowers.”

“We have asked our attorney to investigate these allegations,” Richardson said. “He hired a CPA firm [Shepard-Harris & Associates] to investigate specific allegations. I’m just asking for these documents. And we were blocked, given all kinds of reasons and excuses, even going so far as to attack the board of directors saying that we did not vote properly to act in favor of these documents. That kind of stuff. I said, no, we are the governing body. We ask for this information. We are awaiting this information.

The board has not formally explained the reasons for Myles’ sacking and termination of personal service contracts on November 1. deficit which now puts jobs at risk.

“We’re way beyond that,” Richardson said.

The president is fully aware of the lingering and obvious question: why was the board unaware of the failures, and what is its guilt?

“None of this was overseen by the board of directors,” Ricardson said. “It was done outside of the board. The contracts were issued without the approval of the board of directors. To give us a rosy picture of the agency when we actually have a $ 2 million deficit, that was it.

Prior to a special board meeting on November 1, 2021, Myles prepared a five-page report after “[noticing] one of the items on the agenda is to discuss the job performance of the executive director.

“I have worked diligently and consistently to change the culture, identify non-conformities, put in place processes and procedures to correct non-conformities, develop a non-threatening work environment, apply for new grants, develop partnerships, increase the agency’s revenues, have a presence (sic) in the communities we serve ”, underlines its report. “I do my best to maintain the integrity of the agency and make the adjustments necessary to do business and serve the most needy citizens of Jefferson County.”

Richardson and the board argue otherwise.

“People who practice deception don’t do it so that you can catch them,” he said. “They often try to hide the deception, but they usually all end up getting caught.”

Myles was hired in November 2019 to replace DePriest Waddy, who had resigned months earlier to join Family First in Atlanta. She was from Georgia, where she had been director of operations at the Clayton County Services Authority in Forest Park.

His annual salary at JCCEO was $ 156,000.

JCCEO describes its mission as “to reduce poverty and help low-income citizens of Jefferson County, Alabama meet basic needs and become self-reliant.” Its programs include Head Start, utility and rental assistance, and home weatherization projects.

This story will be updated.