New members take seats on housing board

The Housing Authority of the County of Warren’s board welcomed two members during its first meeting of the year.

Kristy Knupp and Lorri Dunlap joined sitting board members Mike Lewis and Frank Wilcox on Tuesday and were immediately pressed into service as board officers.

Nominations and accompanying elections for the positions of board chair, vice-chair, secretary and treasurer were done informally and a final approval vote was passed as a single item.

Lewis will continue as chair in 2014, while Wilcox will serve as vice-chair, Knupp will serve as secretary and Dunlap will serve as treasurer.

The board also passed an amendment to its bylaws, changing the executive director’s title to chief executive officer.

The action follows previous approval of changes to staff titles to better reflect job duties. The previous titles were drawn from now-outdated civil service system titles.

Only the executive director title change required amendment of the bylaws.

The change does not impact position compensation.

Board member voted to reduce the number of meetings they hold each year. The board opted not to meet in July or August, resulting in ten, rather than 12, meetings per-year.

The board also received reports on a number of end-of-year matters and took action towards closing out the authority’s fiscal year.

CEO Tonya Mitchell-Weston reported the authority ended the year with just under 96 percent cumulative occupancy. She noted that, while the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) seeks at least 97 percent occupancy on a cumulative basis, the number does reflect a significant improvement over 2012.

She reported the figure was bolstered by a 98 percent occupancy rate in December.

Fiscal Director Tracy Kranak announced she had closed out the authority’s December books.

She noted the authority lost money at the end of the year, but that it was due to intentional actions.

She noted the authority did not pull down all available HUD Asset Management Project (AMP) funds, instead opting to wait until office renovations began.

She also pointed out the authority made a number of extra expenditures in 2013 aimed at ensuring it did not face another “fund recapture” from HUD.

“We’re solvent,” Kranak assured the board.

She noted housing subsidies through the Section 8 program were still not being funded at levels allowing for increased occupancy.

“Section 8 took a beating this year,” Kranak said. “They won’t give us money to lease units until we lease (more) units.”

She also noted administrative funding has been reduced to less than 70 percent of full funding.

The authority is currently expending reserve funds to meet shortfalls in HUD funding.

Board members passed a motion allowing budget numbers presented by Kranak to be utilized in submitting a final 2013 accounting for auditing purposes.

Board members also approved payment of approximately $108,000 in bills for December.

Staff reported there were no evictions in December.