Monday, 15 July 2024

Clearlake must repay state grant money

CLEARLAKE – The City of Clearlake must repay more than $18,000 in grant funds to the state because they could not find documentation on how the money was spent for the city’s youth center.


With no other option, the City Council voted 5-0 Thursday night to repay $18,006 out of the general fund to the state Department of Parks and Recreation after City Administrator Dale Neiman said the city could not account for the funds.


Between 2004 and 2006 the city received $38,878 from the state to repair the city’s youth center, The Hot Spot, Neiman reported. The total grant for the center was about $44,000.


Neiman said the state audits the grants. In reviewing the funds neither the state nor the city could find adequate documentation for how $6,049 was spent; another $11,957 was completely unaccounted for, he explained.


That leaves $21,570 for the youth center. Neiman said the city might have to pay back more money if the state continues to find discrepancies in the audit.


The grant’s terms required that The Hot Spot must be operated for 10 years as a youth center – and maintained in an acceptable manner, according to Neiman. If the center isn’t open and kept in good condition, the city would have to return another $20,872 – the amount of grant funds that the city was able to justify.


Neiman suggested using the remaining $21,570 as seed money to build a new skate park facility.


City Councilman Roy Simons said the inability to account for the money “smacks of gross negligence” or corruption.


He asked if a criminal investigation had been undertaken. Neiman said no.


Councilmember Joyce Overton said she supports the skate park but she was opposed to taking money from The Hot Spot to build a new park.


There are negotiations under way to expand the youth center to Lakeport and Middletown, so the center is working, she said.


However, she said The Hot Spot needs a new floor, new roof, gutters and much more.


“This money really was for the youth center and I think it should stay there,” Overton said.


Ronda Mottlow, one of the adult co-chairs of the skate park committee, said they would love to have a new park but she also supported the youth center, which has sponsored the skate park committee’s meetings.


Councilmember Judy Thein asked how many years the city was into the 10-year lifespan of the youth center; Neiman said he was unsure.


He said the state has come to make several inspections of the facility; during a few of those visits the state found the youth center wasn't open.


Thein asked if the city should spell these requirements out in the youth center’s lease. Neiman said they should but the current lease has expired.


“This is a hard choice here,” said Thein. “We need to support our youth one way or the other but we need to protect the city also.”


Overton said it was time the city invested in its youth. Otherwise, gangs and graffiti would worsen, she said.


Neiman agreed, suggesting in the long term the city should develop a parks and recreation program.


Mayor Curt Giambruno said he knew $8,000 of the grant had been spent on a basketball court for city youth.


Giambruno attributed the city’s inability to account for the funding to a previous administration and council, adding that they needed Neiman to help the council sort out the issue and make a plan going forward.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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