Late last year, officials at the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development conducted a review of Dane County programs. They found that two (of more than two dozen) HUD-funded county activities - a neighborhood Joining Forces for Families team and an elderly home rehab program - did not meet eligibility standards. In mid-December, the county paid back a total of $243,250.
But wait. The feds are going to give the money back.
"This wasn't a negative," says Lynn Green, the county's Human Services director. She calls it a "fairly routine audit that just picked up a few issues."
The probe began with an anonymous complaint to HUD, alleging multiple irregularities, most of which were not substantiated. Green says the problems occurred between 2004 and 2007, when the programs were managed by county planning staff. Human Services took over in January 2008.
At issue was whether the HUD funding went to expand county programs, as required, rather than replace existing funds. Green says the county was "unable to demonstrate" that it met this rule and thus had to repay.
But HUD, she adds, "has recycled the money for us to expand in 2009." It will be additional revenue that the county can use in an appropriate way. In other words, says Green, "We're getting a second chance." Good deal, that.