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Late Payments Jeopardize Substance Abuse Service

Feb. 18, 2005 – Employees of The Village V.I. Partners in Recovery Inc, are concerned about a delay in the execution of a contract between their agency and the Health Department.
For the last 15 years, The Village has been contracted by the Health Department to provide substance abuse care to indigents. However, payment for services rendered has not always come in on a timely basis.
Kendall Tutein, director of business services for The Village, said Thursday she is concerned at the slow pace with which the contract is being procured.
In a Feb. 10 letter to Sen. Usie Richards, chairman of the Senate Health, Hospital and Human Services Committee, Tutein indicated that she submitted the contract, signed by The Village CEO Richard Steinberg, to Health Commissioner Darlene Carty on Jan. 31, but was told that Carty had not yet signed the document, and it would only be effective from the date the governor signed it.
The contract was supposed to have covered the period from Oct. 1, 2004 through Sept. 30, 2007.
Tutein said she is concerned that the government would not pay the agency for services rendered from Oct. 1 to date. She said further that The Village did not get paid for services rendered in fiscal year 2003 until December of 2004.
"We were forced to layoff several workers due to the lack of payment for one full year even though services continued to be provided," Tutein said. "We as a nonprofit cannot take on the resources of carrying out services for a whole year without money anymore."
Tutein said in the 15 years The Village has provided services to the government, they only once received their payment on time. It has taken anywhere from six months to a year to receive payment.
She said the government also recently reduced its allotment to the center to $321,3000 a year from $400,000 a year.
"We just had to constantly struggle to stay a float," Tutein said. " Right now times are hard."
Tutein added, "We want to continue to provide these services because substance abuse is a disease that is permeating this society."
Carty said Thursday afternoon she received the contract in January and has since signed it and forwarded it to the Property and Procurement Department. She said after Property and Procurement reviews it, the contract has to go to the Attorney General's Office where he will review it for legal sufficiency before forwarding it to the governor for his signature.
"We do know that we need the service, and we're trying our best to keep the service available to the community," Carty said.
When asked whether The Village would be paid for the services they have rendered from October to date, Carty said, "That's something that I will have to take up with legal counsel and Property and Procurement."
Richards said Thursday the government needed to review its procurement process because an agency like The Village that has been in a contractual relationship with the government 15 years now should be paid for the services that are being rendered during the time that a contract is being procured.
"I don't know whether this will cause The Village and other similar agencies to stop rendering service until contracts are in place," Richards said, adding the government would stand to lose in such instances.
Richards said the Legislature could not do much in such cases.
"The Legislature cannot begin to appropriate monies for contracts until the executive branch first notifies us that services have been rendered and to what amount," Richards said.

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