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JFS director’s resignation followed criticism over agency’s finances

| September 20, 2023
County Commissioners meet at the Clover Cafe at the Tuscarawas County Fairgrounds Wednesday.

NEW PHILADELPHIA – Wednesday’s resignation of the director of Tuscarawas County Job and Family Services comes on the heels of criticism from county commissioners.

The county provided pages of meeting minutes and emails in response to a WJER public records request after commissions offered no comment when they announced a paid administrative leave for now former JFS Director David Haverfield on Sept. 5.

The records show commissioners expressing frustration with Haverfield and the financial situation at JFS.

Commissioners Greg Ress and Kristen Zemis, who were just elected last year, were particularly critical.

Ress, in an Aug. 29 email, described JFS as in “a budget crisis” that requires a “broad scale plan on how JFS is going to get their fiscal house in order.”

Ress addressed Haverfield’s resignation Wednesday, saying it was in the best interest of the county and JFS.

Zemis, according to minutes from an Aug. 23 meeting, suggested Haverfield “has not been forthcoming” in discussing JFS’s financial obligations.

Wednesday, she said commissioners are paying the State Auditor’s Office to conduct a performance audit of the agency. She said that might take nine months to complete.

Haverfield on his Facebook page said he gave everything he had to the agency and the people it serves. He called resigning “one of the most difficult things I have ever done.” He said it was necessary for his mental health and his family, adding “those who understand everything already know.”

Former JFS director Lynn Angelozi is coming out of retirement to serve as interim director.

Financial issues

Commissioners have used words like “dire,” “frustrating,” and “budget crisis” to describe the situation at JFS.

Records show the commissioners transferred $500,000 from the general fund to JFS in late August. They also advanced about $321,000 to JFS in January to help stave off a “fiscal emergency.” Commissioners indicated they expect those funds to be paid back. The agency has been paying back the $321,000 in 12 monthly installments.

Those transfers helped pay off debts, including $432,000 to the Society for Equal Access for transportation services. Zemis, in documents, said that organization was on the verge of closing its doors because it hadn’t received payments from JFS.

In an Aug. 31 email to commissioners, Haverfield outlined 13 ways he planned to cut expenses, including canceling a lawn-mowing contract, conference trips, and unnecessary overtime.

Last month, he asked commissioners to consider placing a JFS levy on the ballot in the spring in part to help pay off the debts. He described the growing costs of providing foster care, which he said exceeded $3 million for the first time last year.

Commissioners placed Haverfield on paid administrative leave the following week.

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