Hope CDA responds to Secretary of State findings

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Ronald Peresich, a lawyer representing Hope Community Development Agency (CDA) released the non-profit organization's response, including supporting documents, to the questions presented to the organization by Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.

The questions centered on allegations of buying and selling properties for profit, spending thousands on meals and travels, and board of directors' oversight at the agency. The Secretary of State even questioned the actual mission of Hope CDA.

The response documents include a detailed response and documentation from every allegation made against the organization.

For example, the state noted $160,745 in revenue for which they received no invoices. Hope CDA said the money was a grant they received from Fund for Gulf Communities. The agreement between the organizations stated that the money would be allocated in two payments. Because of the documents stating the agreement, no invoices were necessary.

Much of the response centers around the argument of "overhead costs," which the state says does not include salaries, benefits, taxes, rent, office expense, utilities, telephone, advertising, mileage, and travel.

Hope CDA's attorney argues that "overhead" represents the allocation of indirect costs. They say the Agency's Chief Financial Officer used the term "overhead" as opposed to "indirect costs."

The response document states programs benefited. For example, copier costs for producing program specific materials would be charged directly to the program. Copier costs for the accounting department, which would benefit all awards and are allocated as indirect costs. The Agency's Chief Financial Officer used the term 'overhead' as opposed to 'indirect costs.' The response says that this allocation is consistent with the practice of other similar agencies.

The document includes responses to questions concerning possible falsified timesheets, a rent-free lease agreement to Gulf Coast Word and Worship, and contributions not applied to a charitable purpose.

Hope CDA was founded after Hurricane Katrina with goals of sustaining hope, providing relief and comfort through synchronized action, and helping the community regain control over its future.

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