Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 30, 2007

By Barbara G. Setzer
For the Salisbury Post
The May 28 letter to the editor from John P. Burke questioning the recent article in the Post about Rowan Homes and Piedmont Behavioral Healthcare was riddled with error and misstatement, conditions which reflect the state of the relationship between Rowan Homes and PBH. It is sad, but nonetheless, true.
Mr. Burke pulled the figure of $601,444 from line 74 of Rowan Homes, Inc.’s IRS Form 990 for the year 2006 and claimed that this figure represented the fund balance for Rowan Homes, Inc. Mr. Burke’s assertion is absolutely false!
Line 74 of IRS Form 990, in fact, reads “Total liabilities and net assets/fund balances.” This amount includes not only cash but also the estimated value of all land, buildings and equipment owned by Rowan Homes, Inc. (e.g. central office/support center, nine vans and all equipment and furnishings in six residential facilities). The figure on line 74 also includes $101,767 in “accounts payable/accrued expenses.” Finally, the figure also includes $49,733 in “deposits held for others.” These are personal funds belonging to our residents, not Rowan Homes, Inc.
Line 72 of the IRS Form 990 reads, “Retained earnings, endowment, accumulated income, or other funds.” If Mr. Burke had taken the time to look at the entry on this line, he would have seen the following amount: ZERO!
Also, Mr. Burke claims that Executive Director Jay Laurens “turned a profit of $68,305 in fiscal year 2006.” This statement is also completely false. There is no turning “a profit” in the nonprofit world in the first place and in the second place, no funds come to Mr. Laurens. They come to Rowan Homes. Mr. Laurens is a paid employee. If Mr. Burke had looked at Line 1 of Rowan Homes, Inc.’s IRS Form 990, he would have seen that $52,235 of that amount was in the form of grant funding. These funds were not from PBH but from charitable foundations such as the Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation, the Margaret C. Woodson Foundation, and the First United Church of Christ Foundation. They were used to purchase two 11-passenger Ford vans and to install hand controls on another vehicle so that it could be driven by a staff person who uses a wheelchair. The vehicles were ordered prior to June 30, 2006, which is the end of the fiscal year. They did not arrive, however, until Aug. 24, 2006. The funds, which had been carried over into this fiscal year, were completely expended at that point.
It should be pointed out that PBH’s allocation to Rowan Homes Inc. for fiscal year 2006-2007 has been almost $52,000 less than the allocation for fiscal year 2005-2006. The Board of Directors of Rowan Homes Inc., having been informed of this cut by PBH, made the difficult decision during last fiscal year to cut a much- needed staff position, coordinator of clinical services. The money saved in doing so was rolled over to this fiscal year in hopes of partially offsetting the cut from PBH.
Mr. Burke’s letter references that the “residents of Rowan Homes are PBH clients” and that “PBH bears the full responsibility for their well-being.” At the very least, it is a shared responsibility. In reality, it is the staff and administration of Rowan Homes who really do the work, 24/7, and look after the residents, day-in and day-out, not PBH, whose sole role in this relationship is to send along appropriate funding in tax dollars, from the State of North Carolina, by the way, to operate Rowan Homes. Too bad that hasn’t been done in an adequate manner.
The Post article “gave priority to Mr. Jay Laurens” because he is the paid executive director of Rowan Homes and deals directly and daily with all matters, fiscal and administrative, of Rowan Homes. He has also been dealing with PBH and their refusal to meet the pressing financial needs of Rowan Homes and its particular mix of clients รณ issues that have dominated the work of our board for the past six years.
Mr. Burke’s letter says that Mr. Laurens is in “imminent danger of losing his job in six weeks.” That may be true, and it would be a crime in light of all the effort, love and care that he has demonstrated on behalf of this organization and its residents. But others also would be in jeopardy of their jobs as well. Mr. Burke does not mention these loyal employees whose devotion to the residents defies description. It is charity toward our fellowman and brotherly love personified.
As a Rowan County member of the PBH Board of Directors, it would have been helpful if Mr. Burke’s energy had been directed toward assisting his home county agency and its residents instead of spreading misinformation.
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Barbara G. Setzer is president of the Board of Directors of Rowan Homes, Inc.