FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmail Evansville City Council Holds off Freezing ECHO Housing FundsMAY 21ST, 2018 JEFF GOLDBERG EVANSVILLE, INDIANAECHO Housing interim director Chris Metz promised an independent audit of the nonprofit during an Evansville City Council meeting on April 9th. It was a part of an ordinance drafted by the council after allegations of misappropriation of funds by former ECHO Housing executive director Stephanie TenBarge. The ordinance asked that ECHO Housing provides the city council with that audit plus steps the organization would take to ensure this would never happen again, or else the city council would freeze city funds to ECHO Housing, which may be as much as 430,000 dollars.Metz walked up to the Evansville City Council tonight empty-handed, lacking the audit the city council asked for. He was flanked by Evansville Police’s Assistant Police Chief Chris Pugh who provided a practical explanation.“There’s no way you can let that audit get turned over: it’s evidence, it’s what we’re basing the entire investigation off of.”EPD’s finical crimes unit are investigating this case with the help and guidance of the FBI. Turning over the audit before the investigation concludes could hurt the case, so Metz couldn’t make good on his promise.This drew the ire of the city council, the members had been expecting at least preliminary results.With some members of the city council frustrated, Metz had an uphill battle to make sure funds continue to be provided to the nonprofit. He focused a lot on the mission of ECHO Housing: to provide housing, help, and hope for homeless men, women, children, and veterans in our community.Metz had to explain how the nonprofit would take steps to prevent this from happening again. Metz was able to provide plenty of examples: including a contract with two separate boards that will come up with best accounting practices for ECHO Housing, adding a new bookkeeper, making sure all checks were written have two signatures, a weekly report to the ECHO Housing board of directors, among others.Metz also let Evansville City Councilmembers know exactly what would happen if funds were to be held off. He says it would mean major programs that both help and serve homeless people and their children would be cut off.Throughout the proceedings Metz answered tough questions by the city council. It was an open candor that Metz described as a beginning of more transparency. In the end, the city council ended up voting to table the measure for 6 months, with only councilmembers Elpers and Weaver voting nay.