ARLINGTON, Ga. — State officials have issued an ultimatum to city officials in Arlington, demanding they repay more than $85,000 in misspent funding for a summer food program for children or be stripped of future funding.
In a letter sent to Arlington officials on Nov. 17, Louis Brienza, director of Nutrition Services for Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, set a Dec. 2 deadline for the City Council to reform the program that he contends hemorrhaged money on “unallowable” expenses and inflated the amount of meals that were dispersed as part of the Summer Food Service Program.
“The city of Arlington and its principles, Dicy C. Burkes Director/Program Contact, Marvin King, Mayor/administrator, and Mary King, Administrative Assistant, are determined to be seriously deficient in the operation of the SFSP,” the letter states. “This designation is based on severe program violations that involve failure to maintain adequate records, failure to demonstrate financial and administrative capability, failure to have adequate supervisory and operational personnel for overall monitoring and management, and the failure to adhere to the meal service requirements.”
The letter specifies that the council has until Dec. 2 to revamp its program to include updating their application procedures, meal count procedures, develop training sessions and providing documentation to prove it can adequately administer and oversee the program.
Additionally, state officials say the council must repay $38,543 to the Bright from the Start program and put an additional $45,601 back into the city’s summer food program.
Failure to comply by Dec. 2, according to the letter, “will result in Bright from the Start issuing a Notice of Termination and Disqualification of city of Arlington participation in (the summer food program) and placement of the organization and its responsible principles ... on the state Disqualified List.”
City of Arlington Attorney Tommy Coleman said Tuesday that he’s been in contact with the state on the matter and is seeking an extension on the deadline.
A separate preliminary criminal investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and an inquiry by the district attorney’s office into the program yielded no evidence of criminal activity, according to a letter written by GBI Special Agent-in-Charge Kim Baker of the agency’s Sylvester office.