The Mohave County Board of Supervisors recently voted 4-1 to allow Sarah’s House Foundation, a local non-profit in Mohave County who offered support to victims of abuse and violence, to assign their lease they have with the county over to the Kingman Aid to Abused People organization. Supervisor Sarah’s House Foundationwas the lone vote against the proposal. “While I believe this organization offers a much needed service for our community, I voted no because they did not present a new lease to us,” Supervisor Johnson stated. According to the backup presented to the Board, they were being asked to approve an Assignment, Assumption and Consent Agreement. “We were told there would be new lease presented to us during the meeting, but it was merely just an assumption of the old one,” Johnson said. “There are many concerns and issues I have with the old lease that I believe make it a potential liability to the tax payers,” Johnson continued.
The Mohave County Attorney’s Office partnered with Sarah’s House Foundation back in 2002 to provide victim’s rights services to victims of child abuse, domestic violence, and sexual abuse. According to Johnson, the original agreement entitled Sarah’s House to construct a building on a 6,000 square foot parcel of county owned land next to the Katherine Heidenreich Adult Center in Kingman. The agreement was for a $10 a year rent. “I supported the original agreement back in 2002; however, it is my understanding that the $10 a year in rent was never paid once to the county. In my opinion, that makes the old lease with Sarah’s House invalid,” Johnson explained. “A new lease would need to be drawn up in order for it to be valid. By going off the old lease, we are leaving the taxpayers liable for a lawsuit,” Johnson continued.
In addition to the rental amount, Supervisor Johnson also questioned the means by which the lease came about. “The transferring of this lease to the Kingman Aid to Abused People organization was never reviewed or approved by our Risk Management Department,” Johnson said. “The board was never given any information on this new organization. We were given no documentation to verify that they are a 501(c) organization nor proof of who their board members are,” Johnson continued. According to Johnson, he would have liked to of seen the lease go through the proper channels. “This should have gone through our Procurement Department. The services these organizations offer are very much needed, but there are other organizations out there who should have been given the opportunity to take over this lease,” Johnson continued.
According to documentation from the Arizona Corporation Commission, Sarah’s House Foundation has not filed an annual review since 2013. “The original organization that we had the agreement with is now obsolete. I knew of problems from articles in the newspaper of internal theft of monies from Sarah’s House but the county was never notified that they were defunct,” Johnson stated. “How can one organization be assuming liability of a lease from an organization that hasn’t existed in two years?” Johnson questioned.
Another concern of Johnson’s is the condition of the building. “To my knowledge the building has not been inspected by county staff to ensure that it is up to code. A visual check of the building from the outside shows it to be in disrepair with broken windows,” Johnson said. According to Johnson, the original lease stipulated that Sarah’s House always be in operation, but Sarah’s House admitted to having the water shut off for some period of time and organizations in the area told local officials that they had ceased operation.
According to Johnson, the county should be transparent in all dealings. “In my opinion the proper change should have come from the board requesting our procurement to go out for bids from qualified providers for a new lease. A lease that would have covered the taxpayer’s liabilities and protected county property,” Johnson stated. “The county has been on the hook for $100,000’s in the past for clean up on properties we already own. The county should be named as additionally insured and some sort of bond should be put in place to cover the removal of the building when it is no longer usable,” Johnson continued. “I have heard good reports on the Kingman Aid to Abused People organization and am not opposed to it providing the services, but all contracts should be beneficial to all parties and available to the public for review,” Johnson ended.