Housing authority sees health insurance costs taking jump

TROY – The Tioga and Bradford county boards of the bi-county housing authority heard from Human Resources Manager Jessica Carpenter Tuesday about coming increases in health insurance for employees during its annual joint board meeting.

“As of Dec. 1, the Northern Tier providers trust consortium will dissolve, and as of Jan. 1, you have to be 100 percent compliant with the Affordable Care Act,” she said.

“We don’t know what to expect, whether we can maintain the same coverage through Blue Cross/Blue Shield, or whether we can maintain zero employee contributions to premium costs,” she said.

The authority has experienced about 11-percent increases each year, but next year it anticipates a 16- to 20-percent increase outside of the trust, Carpenter said.

A 15-percent increase in insurance costs was budgeted in for next year.

“If need be, and we need to revise the budget, we can do it then, but unfortunately we are in a bind with no information,” she said.

The coming expected increases could require employees to contribute for the first time, bringing the authority more in line with other private companies.

The authority also decided to change auditing companies after its current company nearly missed the March 31 deadline, causing “a lot of heartburn” at the main office in Blossburg.

Controller Keren Clark told the group that auditors made the deadline for submission of the audit to the department of Housing and Urban Development, but “only by hours.”

Executive Director Kelley Cevette said it wasn’t the first time the company cut its reporting too close.

“Two years ago they didn’t submit our audit ’til the last minute so it wasn’t accepted till after the deadline,” she said, which resulted in problems for the authority.

“We have also been having problems getting auditors on site to work with us,” she said.

As a result, the next two year contract for auditors has been put out for bid, she added.

“We found most firms have audits complete and submitted by the end of November, which would be much better for us,” Cevette said, adding that 10 requests for proposals have been sent out with a request to have them in by the middle of May so they can be presented at the June meeting.

Clark also reported on both Tioga and Bradford county budgets and gave a March financial report.

In Tioga County, she said, the authority saw an increase in liabilities by $29,000 and an increase in net assets by about $12,000, leaving net assets of about $16,000.

Expenses were down by about $133,000, with a 9-percent decrease in utilities and salary costs.

In Bradford County, assets increased by about $14,000, but liabilities were up by over $100,000 mainly because utilities increased by 14 percent from a company they switched to that had a variable rate.

“Revenues increased by 3 percent but were offset by a decrease in federal funding. I see that as a trend, so efficiency is imperative,” she added.

Clark also told the board that Tioga County had to request extra “front loading” funds to cover it’s rental voucher expenses.

“Tioga County’s expenses were $54,389, but the funding only amounted to $44,769, so we had to request $9,000,” she said

Bradford County’s expenses in the same program were $57,519 and it’s subsidy was $53,563, but they “had a bit left in another account to cover that,” Clark said.

Bradford County board member Janene Goliash said her perception is “HUD is trying to push us out of the voucher program by reducing our funding.”

The financial report for March indicated the authority is “coming in under budget across the board in both counties.”

The boards also heard about a five-year plan for replacing appliances in many units, some of which are over 30 years old, especially in Bradford County. The same type of purchasing schedule will be followed for the maintenance departments to replace tools and equipment at regular intervals, with some planned for this year and the rest spread out according to priority.