Resolving One Stop undecided

Published 10:47 am Wednesday, September 9, 2015

What agency will control the funding of the One Stop job placement center remains in limbo as the Lawrence County Commissioners ask for a prosecutor’s opinion.

The opinion focuses on whether the department of job and family services has to control the Work Investment Opportunity Act funds that make up approximately $300,000 of the One Stop’s budget. Right now the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization runs the One Stop leveraging WIOA funds to bring on partners that help fund the center.

It is Lawrence County Commission President Les Boggs’ contention following advice from a private counsel that a recent state mandate requires the DJFS to take over. However, he has now asked for a county prosecutor’s opinion to determine if that is correct.

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In July the commissioners made the DJFS the fiscal authority for the program effective immediately in a 2-0 vote with commissioner Bill Pratt abstaining. Pratt is a member of the CAO board. Soon after that vote the commission amended the resolution to have the switch start in October.

Since that time the CAO has lobbied to retain its control.

Concern has been expressed at a state level that a transition could not be in place until Jan. 1, 2016, leaving the county without a One Stop for at least three months.

“ We do not think that you can continue to receive WIOA funds after Sept. 30, due specifically to the commissioners’ resolution,” Jon Trott, Workforce Board director, wrote in email to directors of the CAO. “Further, given that your commissioners have not signed your current subgrant agreement, we have real concerns that you should receive ANY funding this program year. We are concerned that given the earliest that a transfer of the program to the DJFS would be Jan. 1, 2016, Lawrence County will be without an Ohio Means Job Center (One Stop) for at least three months.”

Clients would have to travel out of county to get job placement help.

At a second commission work session on Tuesday, Boggs offered proposal to resolve the situation.

Short-term the commission would sign all contracts to keep services with the CAO through Dec. 31.

“That alleviates any lapse of service for our county,” he said.

The long-term proposal revolves around the prosecutor’s opinion.

“Since some do not feel our attorney made an appropriate opinion, I have asked for a second opinion,” Boggs said. “If the opinion comes back that it is not law, then I will make a motion to leave services with the CAO.”

However, if the switch is deemed law, Boggs said he would offer to contract with the CAO while DJFS maintains financial control. CAO could accept or decline this proposal.

CAO director D.R. Gossett questioned why there was a need to have a date on any possible transition since, as he sees it, the possibility of the DJFS taking over hasn’t been mandated by the state. To have a Dec. 31 date would hamstring the One Stop.

“A lot of vendors and especially those receiving services if they are doing tuition or commitment to a job only two months doesn’t help anybody,” Gossett said. “It is an unneccesary time frame. There are a lot of moving parts the state doesn’t have in order. I am hoping some action can be taken to remedy so everybody can be taken care.”