By Ed Runyan
Two Warren City Council committee meetings are scheduled for Tuesday afternoon to address the same issue — the cash-flow problems being encountered by the nonprofit organization Sunshine Inc.
At a 3 p.m. the finance committee meeting called by Councilman Al Novak will talk with Tony Iannucci, Sunshine director, and discuss whether the state should conduct an audit of Sunshine and of Warren Redevelopment and Planning, another nonprofit organization Iannucci runs.
At 4 p.m., the health and welfare committee meeting called by Council- woman Helen Rucker will talk to Iannucci for a discussion on Sunshine Inc.
Novak said he plans to ask the Ohio Auditor and Ohio Attorney General to take a look at the operations of Sunshine and WRAP over the cash shortfall Sunshine has experienced in recent years that resulted in the organization getting $187,311 behind on property taxes and fees owed to the Trumbull County Treasurer’s Office.
Iannucci did not return a phone call Tuesday seeking comment on Novak’s call for state investigations.
Treasurer Sam Lamancusa has threatened to have foreclosures filed on the 87 Sunshine homes involved if the organization doesn’t make arrangements to begin paying down the debt.
Novak said Sunshine’s status as a nonprofit organization that didn’t have to reveal its finances to the city was acceptable when it was achieving the housing goals — encouraging the development of affordable housing for low and moderate income residents.
But now that it’s struggling, Novak said, he feels the state should have a closer look.
“I’ve heard so much. I’m tired of it,” he said. Among the problems are Sunshine Inc. homes in his ward that have turned into eyesores, he said.
Sunshine and WRAP conduct most of their business with federal and Warren funds, but they never give the city an “annual report” of their finances, Novak said.
Among the properties where taxes have not been paid are some in which the person living there is buying the house on land contract and paying the taxes to Sunshine, yet Sunshine hasn’t forwarded the money to the county for the taxes, Novak said.
That is among the areas that investigators should examine, Novak said.
Iannucci, meanwhile, has said Sunshine is having “cash flow” problems just the same as other institutions that have worked in the housing industry during the housing crisis and recession.
Iannucci said he believes Sunshine can get a reasonable payment plan worked out for the back taxes and that the Sunshine portfolio of properties will improve as the economy continues to improve.