FLORENCE — The City Council voted Tuesday to terminate a contract with Crossroads Community Outreach, citing noncompliance with the contract.

The move strips $60,000 from the agency, which operates on a budget of approximately $100,000, said Kimberly Jackson, founder and director of the program.

Jackson said she believes the city targeted the agency, adding this comes as winter approaches. One of the things the agency does is shelter homeless residents.

"I'm very disappointed," she said. "It's malicious."

However, city officials said they had to take the action because the agency was not complying with grant requirements.

The resolution ending the grant states the Alabama Department of Environmental and Community Affairs (ADECA), "discovered accounting, record keeping and reporting discrepancies in submittals from Crossroads in August 2019."

The funds come from Florence's Emergency Solutions Grant. ADECA is the granting authority for the funds. The resolution states the requirements are stipulated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Florence Planning Director Melissa Bailey told the council during its work session before the meeting that they have given Crossroads opportunities to comply.

"The agency was given several deadlines and deadline extensions to provide the documentations but it has failed to do so," Bailey said.

City Councilwoman Kaytrina Simmons, who cast the only vote opposing the contract's termination, asked Bailey whether Crossroads is aware of the issue.

"We have probably 100 pieces of correspondence back and forth between my department and the agency," Bailey replied.

Councilwoman Michelle Eubanks asked whether maintaining the grant would jeopardize future grant possibilities for Florence. Bailey responded yes.

However, Crossroads officials said the policy had changed in August and Crossroads was told they would have to retroactively make changes, such as documenting exactly which client was being served during mileage reimbursements from earlier in the year.

"Noncompliance is an inaccurate statement," Crossroads Board President J.R. Lewis said. "The policy change that came down in August was impossible to meet."

After the meeting, Mayor Steve Holt said the ADECA grant specifies requirements, and those have not been maintained.

"It's unfortunate but that is federal money coming to us," Holt said. "There are rules to be followed and it's been spelled out from Day 1. Nothing's ever moved. Nothing's ever changed. If they want a forensic audit, we can get one."

Lewis said he welcomes city officials to meet with Crossroads officials on the matter.

Crossroads supporters spoke during the meeting, saying the city "moved" requirements during the year. They added they believe this is a way for the city to try to chase homeless people from Florence.

Jackson said she intends to keep the agency operating.

bernie.delinski@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5739. Twitter @TD_BDelinski

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