Housing authority vacancies fill quickly

MANSFIELD – The Tioga County Housing Authority’s low income housing units continue to be 98 percent full, with a one bedroom at Park Hill Manor vacant.

Any vacancies that crop up are filled almost immediately from its waiting list, and the Park Hill Manor apartment is no exception, Executive Director Kelley Cevette reported at the authority’s monthly meeting Monday.

“At the present time we only have this vacancy. You can see applicants approved to be placed are low in some areas but there has been a higher turnover rate so we have used them to fill vacancies. We hope to see them stay put over the winter months,” she said.

In Section 8 housing, Cevette reported 192 vouchers out of 213 have been distributed to applicants, up from the previous number of 170 that have been “leased up.”

“There are 19 out on the street with two to be processed,” she added.

The authority’s Section 8 Management Assessment Program scores this time were 81 percent, a “standard performer” down from a “high performer.”

“The number of units we were leasing is where we missed points,” Cevette explained.

“In their eyes it doesn’t matter that we have expended the money each month, it is how many vouchers you utilize,” she added.

The authority requested $14,700 from its reserve account with the department of Housing and Urban Development, but will not need to request any money from HUD for December, according to controller Karen Clark.

“The reserves will not decrease unless we request monies out of them. But if we have not used it all, they will add it to our reserves,” Clark said.

The authority had $77,400 in funding, and payments worked out to $57,600.

The remaining HUD held reserves through December are $65,300.

The authority also approved its financial report for October, which Clark explained had a few “negative variances” were due to “human error.”

According to Clark, there were some omissions that she had made, being new to the job following the departure of Charlie Bourque.

“When I calculated the employee benefit fund I unfortunately omitted unemployment and civil service commission payments,” she said.

She suggested doing a revised budget if required by the board, but the board decided not to have her do that.

“We have gotten a very good handle on how our financials work,” she said.

Clark was questioned by board member Leo Parchesky about a $38,000 gain In the administrative budget which Cevette said came from one person leaving the central office and the job position eliminated.

There have been some other changes which “directly effects the central office, she added.

“A good portion of Dan (Styborsky’s) salary now comes out of the Community Development Block Grant monies. We had another employee who is now doing a combination position so some of her salary also is coming out of a different source,” she said.

The authority board also approved Cevette’s recommendation to change software services from Tenmast, located in Kentucky, to Horizon Information Systems, located in Johnstown, to save money on maintenance fees.

“They are upgrading their software and not doing it is “not an option, we must upgrade. In doing so, to train entire staff, and convert files to the new software is around $31,000,” she said.

The annual maintenance fee on the program is $22,000 per year, up from $16,000 annually just four years ago, she added.

Horizon’s annual maintenance cost is $7,600 a year through 2018, but the cost is $60,000 to purchase the software and convert all data.

“They waive the first year maintenance fee and they will come here to do the staff training,” she said.

The online application system for applicants will be part of the software program by the time it goes live in February, she said, along with document scanning as well as additional features.

“For instance, applicants can look up where they are on the waiting list,” with the new program, she said.

The authority had been with Tenmast since 2006 and the initial cost for that program was close to $60,000, Cevette added.

Following an executive session, the authority also appointed Cevette as its public information officer in accordance with the 2008 Right to Know Law, and set policy concerning the procedure the public must use to obtain such information.

The policy will be posted on the authority’s website later this week.