Compromise sought in dispute with United Way

March 19, 1998|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore Urban League agreed yesterday to seek a mediator to work out a compromise with the United Way, which has cut off contributions in a dispute over the league's accounting practices.

Linda S. Thompson, chairwoman of the Baltimore Urban League, said the board agreed at an emergency meeting to propose to the United Way board that the two agencies jointly appoint a mediator.

The mediator would seek to bring an end to a 4-year-old dispute between the agencies over whether -- and under what conditions -- the league will accept United Way funds, she said.

The United Way is expected to discuss the proposal at a board meeting today.

"It's a proposal to the United Way and at this point it requires their agreement," she said.

Thompson said she hopes a mediator will be appointed by the first week of April to come up with requirements for the league to continue receiving funds.

The requirements would include information that the Urban League would have to provide about its programs and spending practices, she said.

She said the mediator would be appointed only after both agencies agreed on the same person and that the mediator's recommendation also would have to be accepted by both sides.

"We don't want to try to ram this down anybody's throat," Thompson said.

The league is a high-profile agency that provides job placement and training to the poor.

It enjoys widespread community support and receives funding from numerous sources, including city and federal grants, for its $3.5 million budget.

In recent years, the league has become frustrated over financial reporting requirements set out by the United Way, which agreed to provide it with $163,000 this year. The United Way cut off the funding Oct. 15 as a part of the dispute.

Last week, United Way volunteers met with league executives and later proposed that a committee of three United Way officials and three Urban League officials be appointed to oversee the league's operations.

Urban League director Roger L. Lyons told United Way officials Monday that the league would not seek United Way funds for next year.

Pub Date: 3/19/98

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