Sparta’s Mark Farley is appointed interim director of UCHRA
By Bobby Lee McCulley | March 5, 2018 6:26 am
Last Updated: March 6, 2018 at 3:21 am
A well-known White County native has been appointed interim director of Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency after the current director was placed on administrative leave because of alleged administrative financial misappropriations.
Mark Farley, of White County and director of the Upper Cumberland Development District, along with his staff, will supervise and manage the administrative operations of UCHRA until the completion of an investigation into the actions of Luke Collins, who had been serving in that position prior to the latest controversy.
In mid-February 2017, WSMV, a Nashville-based television news station, broadcasted several series titled, “Timesheet shows government officials working, video & photos indicate otherwise” and “Designed for transit of poor, vehicle used to travel to political event.” The series alleged that Collins falsified timesheet documents and utilized a public transit vehicle, which was intended to transport the poor and elderly to doctor appointments and other essential needs, for personal transportation to a political party fundraiser.
UCHRA is a government-funded agency that provides transit services, nutrition services such as Meals-on-Wheels, and other community services to the 14-county Upper Cumberland region.
The agency is already under investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office. However, the scope of that investigation has not been made clear yet. The comptroller’s audit into UCHRA reportedly began in September 2017.
Following the WSMV reports and complaints filed by former UCHRA employees who alleged Collins told employees to falsity their own time sheets and charge time to transportation services, another state agency is investigating UCHRA. The Tennessee Department of Transportation recently announced that it would be conducting an investigation and audit into the funding accountability of the transportation services provided by UCHRA.
According to a statement issued by TDOT, the department will “ perform a forensic accounting review of transit-related sub-recipient reimbursements.”
Following recent UCHRA executive committee meetings, the members approved conducting a third-party independent investigation into the reported financial mishandlings under Collins’ administration. On Feb. 20, 2018, the committee voted to place Collins on administrative leave with pay until the outcome of the pending investigation is announced and reviewed.
This is not the first time that Collins’ leadership has come under fire. Collins, who was hired as the director of UCHRA, in 2012, was under investigation, in 2016, for alleged claims of intimidations, harassment and other issues following complaints filed by agency employees. Following that investigation, the committee voted to “retain” Collins in his current position as director.
On Feb. 27, 2018, the UCHRA executive committee voted to appoint Farley as interim director of UCHRA until at least the competition of the investigation. The committee stated that Farley and his staff will lead the agency and is expected to focus on the review of the nutrition program and the low income home energy assistance program, which both are facing financial uncertainty.
Farley was appointed the director of UCDD, in 2012. Prior to him accepting the aforementioned position, Farley served as the finance director of White County.