It’s becoming apparent that the future of the Wells Center in Jacksonville may be in the hands of an unidentified third party.
That was a fact agreed upon by executive director Bruce Carter and state comptroller Susana Mendoza, who made a rare visit to a downstate local agency at the Wells Center today.
Carter announced late last week that the Wells Center was closing next month, due in part by the state’s inability to pay the Center money it’s owed because of a lack of a state budget.
The visit may have been prompted by criticism by officials within Governor Bruce Rauner’s office that Mendoza was withholding $343-thousand in payments to the Wells Center.
But, Mendoza claims she has yet to see some the vouchers for those bills from offices under the control of Governor Rauner
Mendoza was critical of Rauner’s inability to fulfill his state constitutional duty to produce a balanced budget.
In response, Rauner spokeswoman Eleni Demertzis says, “Comptroller Mendoza has half a billion dollars at her office to pay the Wells Center and avoid it’s closing. It’s disappointing that instead of simply doing her job, she used taxpayer resources to travel the state and grandstand in front of the Center. The appearance in unseemly at best.”
Carter says there was enough information to take back to the board to make a decision on the facility’s future, and make it soon.
Carter says the Wells Center received a state payment last Friday for nearly $131-thousand. He is most concerned about continuing services at the Wells Center in Jacksonville.
Neither Carter nor Mendoza was ready to identify the third party that would manage the facility. Carter says the Center is considering both private and publically funded organizations.