Bluegrass Area Development District says era of mismanagement is over but state feels it is time for change

After their contract to provide services was taken away following months of controversial spending, the Bluegrass Area Development District (ADD) said Tuesday their issues have been addressed and there is no need to change control of services. However, the Bevin administration says they are looking for strong partners and changes have to be made.

A focus on the state’s area development districts comes after major questions over spending by the Bluegrass Area Development District in her region were raised following an audit by former state Auditor Adam Edelen which found “numerous conflicts of interest and questionable financial activity.”

Because of these issues, Gov. Matt Bevin recently announced that the state is ending its contract with the Bluegrass ADD, which ends June 30, and a new provider will oversee the services for six months until a competitive bidding process is complete and a new provider is chosen to run the Lexington area district.

In a press conference Tuesday about the issues facing the Bluegrass ADD and the cancellation of their contract, members of the ADD board said they are challenging Bevin’s move to shift control of the local programs from the area development district and added they no longer have “any financial issues” and feel the services should not be moved.

In a recent interview with the Kentucky Chamber’s news site, The Bottom Line, Education and Workforce Cabinet Secretary Hal Heiner noted that the state receives federal money to be used by the area development districts on certain programs and said it is the state’s job in partnership with these districts to make sure the money is spent wisely, which has been the issue in some areas.

“As the prime recipient of those funds from the federal government, we have an oversight responsibility on the reporting of those dollars to the department of labor and not only accurate reporting but they be used only for the type of services that the federal government says they can be used for,” Heiner said.

Heiner stated that the services provided by these local entities including things like unemployment insurance, tuition assistance and others are important and the state would like to see those kept strong.

“We want close partners. And partners that have full respect for the requirements of oversight on the grant,” Heiner said (at 1:00 in the video). “And one of the reasons that in the recent past a competitive bidding process has been put in place for workforce development boards will require competitive bids on who is going to provide the most for the dollar invested, that is what we are after. How can we help the most people get into jobs for the employers who quite frankly are screaming at this point not able to find individuals to fill spots to meet their current orders.”

Watch the interview with Heiner below:

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Jacqueline Pitts
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