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County gives financial backing to CareerSource North Central Florida

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

At the December 10 County Commission meeting, commissioners decided to provide up to $750,000 in working capital to keep CareerSource North Central Florida (CSNCF) afloat. For the history of this, see “CareerSource of North Central Florida accused of improper use of funds, conflicts of interest” and “County Commissioners discuss how to move forward on CareerSource.”

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) put CSNCF on a cash-reimbursement basis in late October, meaning that instead of providing grant funds in a lump sum, to be used by CSNCF to pay its vendors and expenses, CSNCF now has to submit invoices to DEO and wait to be reimbursed. Since CSNCF has no authority to maintain cash reserves, their bank account quickly dwindled to nothing.

Reimbursements have come slowly, leading to cash flow problems for CSNCF and its vendors. Dynamic Workforce Solutions, which runs the Gainesville CareerSource office, gave notice that it may run out of money (and thus stop providing services) on December 15. The North Florida Chamber of Commerce previously said it would stop providing services last week. The Greater Gainesville Chamber of Commerce and Communities and Schools of Bradford have not given a date for ending services.

The fifth vendor is the Administrative Entity (AE), Focused Management Solutions (FMS), which is the focus of the state’s investigation. The state holds that CSNCF’s model of hiring a contractor to provide AE services is problematic. As a result, the state has not reimbursed any funds or approved any invoices to FMS, which is now saying that they will have to stop providing AE services very soon (the date has varied). The contract with FMS provides that they will provide “transition services” for 30 days after the contract ends, for about $40k. It is unclear whether the state will reimburse that invoice, assuming those services are provided, but that means that CSNCF has until mid-January to find another AE.

Under the new Memorandum of Understanding between Alachua County and CSNCF, the county will open a bank account at Ameris Bank to be used by CSNCF. CSNCF is responsible for providing information and authorizations to the state so that all state reimbursements will go to that account. CSNCF must also provide the county with invoices that have been pre-approved by the state. The county will deposit money in the account (up to a maximum of $750k) for the amounts of the invoices, and CSNCF can use that money to immediately pay its vendors. Over time, as the state deposits its payments for the invoices into the account, all of the money should be paid back. The arrangement will end when CSNCF goes back to its normal funding process with the state, and ideally all of the money provided by the county will go back to the county. 

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Since no invoices for the AE have been approved by the state, they will not be paid from the account, and they will stop providing services at some point, so the county is working on how to replace those services. The first step is to get an amendment to the county’s Interlocal Agreement with Bradford County to give them the authority to hire an AE; the next meeting of the Bradford County Commission is on December 19. The second step is to find someone to step in immediately, and the county is hoping that one of the other regional workforce boards will be willing to do that. 

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