Au­dit faults hous­ing agency

An­napo­lis au­thor­ity may have mis­han­dled $3 mil­lion, HUD finds

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Chase Cook

The An­napo­lis hous­ing au­thor­ity could be re­quired to re­pay $3 mil­lion in fed­eral funds af­ter au­di­tors found prob­lems in how the or­ga­ni­za­tion paid for ser­vices in al­most a dozen con­tracts.

The Hous­ing Au­thor­ity of the City of An­napo­lis over­sees public hous­ing in the state cap­i­tal.

Au­di­tors with the U.S. Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Ur­ban Devel­op­ment said the agency showed poor record-keep­ing and made pay­ments to ven­dors with­out of­fi­cial con­tracts.

If the au­thor­ity can’t prove its pur­chases used fed­eral money at a “fair and rea­son­able” price and fol­lowed pro­ce­dures, it could be li­able for the $3 mil­lion — about 23 per­cent of all con­tract pay­ments made from De­cem­ber to July.

It was the sec­ond au­dit of the hous­ing au­thor­ity this year.

In the first, au­di­tors said the au­thor­ity had mis­han­dled fed­eral grant money tar­geted at im­prov­ing the self-suf­fi­ciency of public hous­ing res­i­dents.

Au­thor­ity of­fi­cials have not com­mented on the lat­est au­dit.

HUD said the au­thor­ity of­fi­cials told au­di­tors they were work­ing to pro­vide miss­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion to prove money was spent wisely.

Of­fi­cials also said they plan to re­view record keep­ing, pro­cure­ment and doc­u­men­ta­tion train­ing with em­ploy­ees, HUD said.

The au­thor­ity is cur­rently led by in­terim ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Richard Wal­ton, who also serves as fi­nan­cial di­rec­tor.

Wal­ton took over af­ter ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Melvin Col­bert re­signed in Au­gust.

Wal­ton pre­vi­ously served as in­terim di­rec­tor when an­other for­mer ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Vin­cent Leggett, re­signed in Sep- tem­ber 2015. He served un­til Col­bert’s hire.

Wal­ton over­sees au­thor­ity fi­nances. A board of com­mis­sion­ers has fi­nal ap­proval on con­tracts.

An­napo­lis Mayor Mike Pan­telides said he was “dis­ap­pointed that tax­payer money was mis­man­aged.”

The hous­ing au­thor­ity is an independent agency char­tered by the state. The An­napo­lis mayor ap­points mem­bers to its board of com­mis­sion­ers, sub­ject to the ap­proval of the City Coun­cil.

The au­thor­ity’s fis­cal year 2015 ex­penses to­taled about $14.5 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to au­thor­ity bud­get doc­u­ments.

Of 12 ven­dors re­viewed, HUD au­di­tors said, 11 re­vealed “im­prop­erly pro­cured ser­vices and prod­ucts” — mean­ing they did not fol­low HUD pro­cure­ment poli­cies.

Au­di­tors said the hous­ing au­thor­ity did not doc­u­ment cost es­ti­mates be­fore mak­ing pur­chases, made pur­chases with­out hav­ing con­tracts in place, paid for ser­vices af­ter con­tracts ex­pired and failed to ex­tend con­tracts prop­erly.

The au­thor­ity’s ef­forts to re­pair hous­ing units were cited among prob­lem spots. For five of seven ven­dors used for plumb­ing, heat­ing and unit re­pair, pest con­trol and main­te­nance sup­plies, au­di­tors said, the au­thor­ity didn’t have a con­tract to sup­port pay­ments.

Au­thor­ity of­fi­cials ac­knowl­edged de­fi­cien­cies, au­di­tors said, but pushed back on some as­ser­tions and said they were work­ing to pro­vide re­quired doc­u­men­ta­tion.

The au­dit con­tin­ues a year-long stretch of prob­lems for the au­thor­ity.

Mul­ti­ple res­ig­na­tions, the stalled re­de­vel­op­ment of a hous­ing project, and crime at some prop­er­ties has put the au­thor­ity in the spot­light.

The mayor has been a critic of the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Pan­telides, a Repub­li­can elected in 2013, said three board mem­bers he has ap­pointed, and a fourth still to come to fill an ex­pir­ing term, can bring about change.

“I have faith that peo­ple on the board can turn this around,” he said.

“The board can cre­ate best prac­tices for the fu­ture.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.