NewsChannel 10 Investigates: Panhandle Community Services - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

NewsChannel 10 Investigates: What's next for Panhandle Community Services?

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AMARILLO,TX - 28 employees at Panhandle Community Services will be out of a job at the end of the month after monetary funds were frozen following a state investigation into their accounting records.

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs claims to have found more than $1 million dollars in "questionable or disallowed" costs and expenses.

"This is a bump in the road that's on its way to being solved," Pastor Darryl Fincher with PCS said.

The Panhandle Community Services center has been serving low income families across all 26 counties of the Texas panhandle for more than 40 years.

The agency has recently come under tight surveillance and scrutiny following a state investigation into the company's financial budget.

"The investigation conducted by the state is complete," PCS' employment attorney Shawn Twing said. "Even though the reports note lack of financial control and structure of finances, there's absolutely no evidence of embezzlement or misuse of funds."

However,  the Department of Housing and Community Affairs claims about $500,000 was spent "questionably" with another $400,000 being intentionally billed to a closed program fund no longer in existence.

"There was some negligence," Fincher admitted. "But, there is no sense of money ever being taken. Money was used to help people but when you are dealing with grants and government funds, you have to use those funds just as they have been issued."

Because money was spent in places it was not approved or allocated for, many people have labeled this activity as wasteful spending.

The board of directors for PCS met Monday to discuss putting Executive Director Phyllis Cook on a 6-month probationary period following the states report.

Cook immediately resigned from her duties.

We went to her house Thursday where she answered the door, but declined to comment about the investigation. 

"The first priority is to make sure the agency is back where it needs to be," Fincher said.

To help the organization fix their financial problems and internal struggles, Meliora Partners Inc., an Iowa-based consulting firm was hired.

"The board chose to hire them to help get the deficiencies corrected and re-establish funding for the programs and services that are not being funded here at this time," Twing said.

The organization is holding strong, hoping they will be able to re-build following these financial difficulties.

"We are here to bring assistance to the people and it would be a tragedy if PCS were not around," Fincher said.

The organization says they do plan on hiring a new executive director in the near future.

The 28 employees being laid off will be paid a severance package in addition to receiving a written 90-day guarantee promising their jobs back should the company's assets be released.

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