Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and City Council President Joe Cavo said during Thursday's rally in support of the Hispanic Center they will sort out the financial problems facing the Hispanic Center.
Friends of the Hispanic Center rallied at the center on Harmony Street Thursday out of fears the center might close because the umbrella agency that provides its money is in financial distress.
"The Hispanic Center offers people a lot of help," said Amber Medina, who attended the rally with her daughters Alea and Fernanda. Amber has been getting help from the center since 2006. That includes backpacks full of school supplies for her daughters, Thanksgiving baskets and presents for Three Kings Day. "It helps us a lot."
The City Council will start work on this issue at its Oct. 4 meeting.
"As long as I'm mayor of this city we'll have the Hispanic Center," said Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton. "We want the center to evolve as the needs of the city evolves to serve whatever those needs are."
Ingrid DiMarzo, executive director of the Hispanic Center, said, "We're not going anywhere. Every social service agency in the city needs to evolve."
CACD, the Community Action Center of Danbury, acts as the umbrella agency that funnels state and federal money to the Hispanic Center for its programs. Both CACD and the Hispanic Center run programs to help people who don't earn much money.
Former Danbury Mayor Gene Eriquez attended Thursday's rally in support of the Hispanic Center, and Eriquez said similar financial problems arose at CACD in his terms as mayor. He said they also arose during Jimmy Dyer's administration before his.
"They have had financial issues, it would be fair to say," Eriquez said. "I dealt with it in my term. CACD has done good things helping people of low income in this community. They have had a host of financial problems."
Cavo said he visited CACD Wednesday night with Hispanic Center Executive Director Ingrid DiMarzo, to discuss the contract between the two agencies.
Cavo said he was asked to leave before the two parties started to talk. "I have lost confidence in their ability to operate with transparency."
Cavo and City Council Member Tom Saadi said the city is asking for audits of CACD, and some state audits have been critical, including an Inspector General audit and an audit by the state Department of Social Services.
"This is about an audit proving an agency isn't doing the right thing. We don't want to lose the agency. We don't want to see that money going to other towns. We want to fix it," Saadi said.
Saadi and Cavo expect the City Council to take action at its meeting on October 4 to investigate the issue. The meeting is usually held on the first Tuesday of the month, but because of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, the meeting will take place on Thursday next week.