- Office of State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump
Mike Wessler, Communications Director
Boston — State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today released an audit, which showed the Agawam Housing Authority improved financial oversight of its operations. However, the report also revealed some continuing deficiencies.
A 2007 audit criticized the Authority’s Board and Executive Director for poor decisions and lax oversight of its operations resulting in inappropriate use of Authority funds for personal expenses, high personal usage of Authority cell phones, questionable gasoline card purchases, and over $8,000 in questionable expenses relating to a personnel dispute. A review of operations between October 1, 2008 and March 31, 2010 showed the Authority replaced its Executive Director and has corrected its policies authorizing expenditures and the use of Authority assets.
A $187,259 decline in the Authority’s operating reserves was attributed in the prior audit to the questionable payments made by its former Executive Director and approved by its board over a five year period. Today’s audit notes that the Authority has since replenished its reserves, meeting state standards and allowing it to be adequately prepared for emergency situations.
The 2007 audit also noted that the Authority lacked an official personnel policy and that payroll systems lacked basic timesheets and attendance calendars. Auditor Bump’s follow-up review showed that the Authority now has board approved personnel policies and its payroll systems now properly document employee attendance.
Among other improvements at the Authority noted in today’s report include increased security of Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI), reduced balances in money due from tenants, and procurement policies that now comply with state laws.
Today’s audit also noted some continuing deficiencies at the Authority. While sanitary violations identified in the 2007 audit have since been repaired, additional inspections of four units revealed new violations including walls in disrepair, possible mold, and missing electric cover plates.
The prior audit criticized the Authority for taking an average of 155 days to re-rent units when state guidelines call for a maximum 21-day turn-over rate. Today’s audit showed the Agawam Housing Authority took an average of 229 days to prepare vacant units for occupancy, resulting in a lost opportunity to earn $112,747 in potential rental income.
In addition, the Audit found continued deficiencies with the Authority’s tenant selection, rent determination, and inventory control procedures.
“I’d like to acknowledge the Agawam Housing Authority’s Board of Directors for being responsive to many of the findings of our past audit,” said Auditor Bump. “The challenges that persist in the Authority plague many housing managers statewide. I hope the Authority can continue its progress.”
The Authority indicated that it is working to remedy all findings of today’s audit.