Ville Platte Housing Authority addresses findings in annual audit report

By: MICHAEL BORDELON

News Editor

The Ville Platte Housing Authority, during its meeting Tuesday, March 11, received its annual audit report from Certified Public Accountant Vic Slaven.

Slaven said there was only one finding in the report, which stated travel expenses were not documented correctly. A total of $3,728 was in question.

One charge on the housing authority’s credit card was a hotel stay for Chairman Daniel Arvie in Galveston, Texas, at a cost of $571.40. Arvie said when the board was beginning to put together its non-profit organization, Ville Platte Community Company, to create more low-income housing in the city, he traveled to Galveston to view low-income housing recently constructed there and discuss their experience with it. However, Arvie said he later learned the housing authority could not pay for expenses related to Ville Platte Community Company because the two are separate entities. Arvie agreed to pay that amount back to the housing authority.

Several other charges in question included lunches, room service and cell phone bills of the former executive director, Eldridge Hickerson, and former chairman, Donald Anderson. The board agreed to send letters to Anderson and Hickerson to request payment of these cell phone overages. If they do not contact the housing authority within 30 days, the board agreed to file a judgment.

The board also learned its members receiving Christmas hams two years ago from a local business also fell under that finding. The board members agreed to pay back the cost for the hams out of their own pockets. All issues in the finding were addressed and corrected by board members.

The board also approved a new travel policy that will require anyone traveling for housing authority business must provide all supporting documentation stating why that person was there and what they were doing before those charges are approved.

In other business, the board:

•Agreed to reduce protective services to attempt to keep expenses in line with the budget. Board member David Ortego said $18,000 was spent on protective services so far this fiscal year, which began July 2007, and the money was well spent. However, now that the problems the housing authority experienced earlier in the fiscal year have lessened, he said protective services should be reduced to bring that expense more in line with the budget. The board also spent $8,000 to set up a police substation with the Ville Platte Police Department, and Executive Director Emily Woodall said cutting down on protective services will not cut down on the substation’s use.

•Heard from Lula Richardson about the YES program, which is offering tutoring and teaching children in the housing projects about peer pressure and self-respect. Richardson said she will be taking the children to Avery Island soon, which is where Tabasco™ is made. Some of the children who have participated in the program were on hand to discuss their experiences with it and what it has taught them.

•Learned Grace Sibley, with the school board office, will begin tutoring adults in reading and math. This will be done through the housing authority’s Title One Program.

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