The Denver Post

Rocky Mountain Human Services had been slammed for spending problems.

- By Jennifer Brown

A tax-funded nonprofit that serves Denver residents with disabiliti­es has straighten­ed out its spending after a damaging audit nearly two years ago revealed problems.

A follow-up audit this week by City Auditor Tim O’Brien’s office found that Rocky Mountain Human Services, which received $14 million in city tax money last year, has put in place all of the auditor’s recommenda­tions.

The December 2015 audit found that Rocky Mountain overcharge­d the city $650,000 for administra­tive expenses and spent $48,000 on meetings, including an employee going-away party at a Lone Tree restaurant.

Its then-CEO was earning nearly $500,000 and workers were receiving free home-internet service and Costco membership­s.

The nonprofit now has more specific protocols regarding how it can spend city mill levy funds, according to the follow-up audit. Also, the Denver County Human Services Department, which contracts with the nonprofit for disability services, hired a full-time internal auditor to monitor those expenses.

Executives’ salaries at the nonprofit now are included in the agency’s administra­tive portion of the budget. Administra­tive costs now average 9 percent of the budget, below the 15 percent contractua­l cap, according to the latest report.

Rocky Mountain is one of 20 community-centered boards in Colorado that manage services for people with intellectu­al and developmen­tal disabiliti­es. Denver voters in 2003 approved a dedicated mill levy for children and adults with disabiliti­es, a tax that raised $11.5 million in 2015 and $14.5 million last year.

The agency also receives money from the state general fund and the Medicaid department, but those funds are not part of the city audit.

The former CEO of Rocky Mountain, Stephen Block, was fired before the 2015 audit was publicized. Shari Repinski, who took over as director, cut spending by 17 percent and laid off 65 workers. An internal audit found Rocky Mountain had overspent its $48 million budget by $4.4 million, she said.

The agency serves more than 6,500 people with disabiliti­es each year.

Parents of children with disabiliti­es still are skeptical of the agency’s spending and have called for increased scrutiny on all community-centered boards that manage services.

“Many feel the nonprofit is not transparen­t and is not getting money to many eligible who are in need,” said mother Maureen Welch.

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