Commissioner Piepkorn Draws Criticism for Audit Request of Lutheran Social Services
Fargo City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn is pushing for a state audit of Lutheran Social Services.
Piepkorn says he believes the nonprofit is hiding how it uses its funds from the city to aid refugee resettlement.
Others on the city commission as well as the mayor disagree.
Commissioner Dave Piepkorn says he believes Lutheran Social Services, has something to hide.
Although when asked what he thinks they’re hiding, he isn’t clear.
“I’m not going to give you any examples because then we won’t be able to find them,” said Piepkorn.
However, the nonprofit company is already audited by the same private company that audits the City of Fargo, and that information is public.
City Commissioner John Strand believes any questions as to how exactly LSS spends its refugee funds can be solved by looking at those audits.
“They have audits and it’s a requirement by the IRS to do that all the time anyway. So the audit exists,” he said.
Strand says putting additional scrutiny on the nonprofit organization could set a negative precedent, especially since the organization exists to help people get settled into the community after escaping some of the most desperate of situations.
Piepkorn doesn’t see it that way.
“You know they’re trying to make it an emotional argument and I’m trying to make it into facts, and the truth, and numbers,” explained Piepkorn.
He says he thinks that because the city helps fund LSS, they should be subject to higher scrutiny.
“They claim the city of Fargo only spends $28,000 on refugees,” said Piepkorn. “Well that’s a preposterous number.”
Mayor Mahoney says how much city money LSS spends on refugees is beside the point.
He believes refugees are worth the city’s investment.
“You bring a refugee in, average salary is nine bucks an hour. Ninety percent are employed within three months so it’s a work force for us,” he explained.
Both Mahoney and Strand say Piepkorn’s questions aren’t unfounded, but they believe the way he’s addressing this situation is wrong.
“I think he’s been rather insulting to LSS. You could ask that question much nicer,” Mayor Mahoney said.
Piepkorn’s dissatisfaction with LSS goes beyond accusing them misusing funds.
He says he wants the city to assume a larger role in determining the amount of refugees accepted into the community.