The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday requested its auditor investigate fiscal and governance problems at the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board.
The board unanimously backed the request for an audit, which would be the second in recent years. The Internal Audit Office, which answers to the county executive, examined the CSB’s finances over a period between July 2009 and September 2010 and found that the agency’s outdated budgeting systems had not accurately accounted for about $1.4 million in billings.
County officials have stepped up oversight over the CSB in the face of deepening fiscal problems that could force the agency to reduce or eliminate critical social services for thousands of people. On Monday, approximately 50 people, including service providers and recipients, attended one of a series of public hearings hosted by the CSB and the Human Services Council to plead against further cuts to CSB programs.
Lynn Ruiz, who is director of community relations at the Arc of Northern Virginia, told the panel that priority should be given to the program that offers employment assistance to people with intellectual disabilities after they leave the Fairfax County Public Schools. Appearing with her 19-year-old daughter, Lydia, who has Down syndrome, Ruiz said her family has been waiting 10 years for a form of Medicaid assistance commonly known as a waiver and could not afford to pay for a private placement service when her daughter is no longer eligible for assistance through the schools.
“I’m hoping that they don’t have to cut anything,” she said afterward. “But it’s not reality. They have to cut something.”
In interviews, others expressed anger at the CSB’s leadership and the county for allowing financial problems to fester to the point that critical services are now in jeopardy, but they also were reluctant to criticize the agency directly because their families rely on its help.
The agency, which oversees and arranges the delivery of services for people with intellectual disabilities, mental illness and drug or alcohol problems, has run up an $8 million deficit in fiscal 2012. That shortfall is projected to grow to nearly $9.5 million in fiscal 2013, which begins July 1. George Braunstein, executive director, has said the agency is caught in a vice between growing demands for help following the 2007-09 economic downturn and dwindling resources from the federal and state governments.
County Executive Edward L. Long Jr. had recommended the board’s action. Long also has asked Deputy County Executive Patricia Harrison and Chief Financial Officer Susan Datta to lead a team of county staff to work closely with the CSB to untangle its fiscal problems. Long, in a memo dated June 1, said he planned to deliver a specific plan on addressing the issues within three weeks.