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Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth may lose taxpayer funds

Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth may lose taxpayer funds

By Molly Waldron. CREATED Feb 1, 2012

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A homeless youth charity under state investigation and embroiled in controversy may lose more than $200,000 in tax dollars. That's because some county commissioners are having a change of heart. The charity's executive director sat down with Contact 13 on Wednesday.

For years, Clark County has supported the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth. But now, the amount of that support is being called into question.

"We just literally approved the same dollar amount that was approved the year before," County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said. "That's not as much scrutiny, and shame on us if that's the case, to say is this really working?"

County Commissioners Chris Giunchigliani and Lawrence Weekly want to amend or terminate the grant money that the commission approved in mid-January. Chris Giunchigliani wants to give $100,000 of the $214,000 grant to another program.

"They still get an allocation, it forces them to go in and re-grind their budget," Giunchigliani said. "There's more eyes on it now."

All eyes have been focused on NPHY because of the charity's founder and recently ousted COO, Kathleen Vermillion. The former Henderson City Councilwoman stands accused of misappropriating charity funds for her personal use. She's under investigation by the State Attorney General. But NPHY executive director Arash Ghafoori, who filed the complaint against her, says the county grant money has nothing to do with the allegations. And if they lose it, it's the kids who suffer.

"It will hurt," Ghafoori said. "It really will hurt and I think, beyond the financial ramification, I think that it's indicatory that the County doesn't value the mission and the work that we do on behalf of the community."

Previous grants directed dollars to services for the kids for things like transportation, and medical, clothing and educational expenses. During the approval process, NPHY tried to change the budget, pulling most of the money out of services for the kids and instead putting it into "salaries and fringe related to project administration."

"That was something under old management and that's not a concern anymore and we do not wish to pursue that new budget," Ghafoori said. "We do value the budget being more toward supportive services."

The old management he's talking about is Kathleen Vermillion. She told Action News that she proposed budget changes because they already had other funding for the kids and needed the county money for case manager salaries and employees at their drop-in center. That doesn't sit well with board Vice Chairman John Simmons.

"I can assure the County Commission--and I completely understand them being concerned as well--that this agency will do everything and anything to not have this happen again," Simmons said.

The county approved the grant without Vermillion's changes. But now, some or all of the money could be pulled.

The county commission plans to take up the matter at next Tuesday's meeting.