Dubuque County supervisors recently discussed the possible dissolution of Operation: New View Community Action Agency and ways to cover the organization’s outstanding debt.
The agency, which has struggled financially for years, is currently under consideration for a merger with nearby community action agency Hawkeye Area Community Action Program.
HACAP serves six counties in Iowa. Like Operation: New View, it works to fight poverty through a variety of programs and services.
HACAP was one of three agencies that offered to take Operation: New View under its wing.
Supervisor Dave Baker said that if the merger takes place, several issues need to be resolved. Chief among those issues is the Dubuque agency’s debt, which totals about $267,000.
Baker said the debt was incurred when Operation: New View staff used funds for purposes other than for what they were designated.
“The funds were not used properly,” Baker said. “They would be using funds that they got for one program and use it for another program.”
Money is owed to both Head Start and the Iowa Department of Human Resources. Baker said local officials have asked the agencies to waive the debt, but it’s unclear whether that request will be granted.
If the debt is not waived, payment will fall on the governing parties of Operation: New View’s board. That includes Dubuque County, the City of Dubuque, Jackson County and Delaware County.
Supervisor Jay Wickham said Dubuque County would likely be on the hook for about 40% of that debt load. But his board proposed splitting it into one-third each for the county and the city, while Jackson and Delaware counties would cover the final third together.
“We should negotiate a fair and equitable agreement,” Wickham said. “The lion’s share should be split equally.”
Baker said members of Operation: New View’s board are leaning toward pursuing a merger with HACAP. That could occur Oct. 1.
“Everyone at the table is talking positively about this merger with HACAP,” Baker said.