September 19, 2014

County Commissioners reallocate $42,867

Posted

STANDISH — The Arenac County board of commissioners voted to pay back $42,867.49 to Arenac County Housing Commission housing programs.

Over the years, the money, which came mostly from grants, was mistakenly used to fund the Housing Commission’s office operating costs, while it was supposed to be used for helping citizens keep their houses up to the county’s standard.

The office’s operating costs include things like paying the staff, and any other expenses that the office needs to operate such as copy paper, telephone service, and other standard supplies.

According to Housing Commission Director Jill Eyre, the money needs to be in the right place so they can help more people.

“It’s money that was for programs and projects. If you looked at the bottom line, it looked like there was money in the housing department, but it was for programs,” she said about the misused money that added up over many years. “It needs to be put back. I have a waiting list. When that money comes back, I can help more people.”

District 2 County Commissioner Ray Daniels said that the mistaken use of the money occurred, in part, because some grants allow for the money to be used for administrative purposes, and some don’t.

“Typically, a lot of the Housing Commission’s money comes from grants. What happens is that you got to have money for the administration; some grants allow that and some don't,” he said. “It’s something that happened year in and year out. That’s supposed to be there so we’re going to make it whole.”

Citing a $25,000 United States Department of Agriculture grant, that the office has applied for and may receive in August, Eyre said that the funding for administrative duties at the office is getting extremely hard to find, as only 10-18 percent on average of each grant amount is funding the office’s operating costs.

If they do receive that grant, only $2,500 will be available for the operation of the office.

The funding for the office has been so light that the county only has the office open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of every week, instead of every weekday as it had been in the past.

The decision followed the recent retirement of Ruth Harrison, who was the housing director for about 25 years.

“I guess they saw it coming,” Eyre said about the county commissioners and the ever lessening funding for the office. “When Ruth retired they put the office on part time and no benefits. Interest payments can go back to the office.”

Last year the Housing Commission received a grant of $187,500 from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

Eyre said that money is almost gone because of the demand in the community.

“We’re almost out. I have a meeting tonight and we’re going to pick and choose,” she said about how the Housing Commission Board picks projects that need the most work. “The board decided they would have to pick and choose health and safety first.”

With money already so tight, Eyre said that there will be steps taken to make sure money falls into the correct areas.

“It’s a little better auditing system, and I will be reconciling with the treasurer,” said Eyre who will meet with the treasurer every month. “We have separated the accounts now.”

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