The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


May 2, 2014

Botched HUD records to cost county $177G

SUNBURY — Northumberland County has been ordered to repay $177,873 to the state and federal government for failure to keep accurate records of its Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program grant.

Northumberland County did not administer its program according to requirements in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, according to a 19-page federal audit report submitted Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General.

Specifically, the county “did not always ensure that program participants were eligible for assistance, maintain complete documentation in the participant files, ensure that it incurred only eligible expenses and properly supported them, make draws from the correct grant line items and perform required unit habitability inspections,” and the county also did not return unused program funds as required, according to the report.

HUD determined the total repayment consists of $159,149 in unsupported expenditures, $15,183 in ineligible expenditures and $3,541 in unused grant funds.

But county Commissioners Vinny Clausi and Stephen Bridy put the blame on the program itself, saying the money had to be spent as quickly as possible and with little guidance from the state.

“They rolled a lot of these programs out as fast as they could to stimulate the economy, and there was no clear picture of what needed to be done,” said Bridy, who was not in office at the time of the botched grant program.

“The county is now being punished for doing right by the people who were victims,” Clausi said. “We tried to help them out as much as we could and now they are smashing us.”

The program was to provide financial assistance and services to prevent individuals and families from becoming homeless and to help those who were experiencing homelessness to be quickly rehoused and stabilized.

Commissioner Rick Shoch, who pushed for the investigation into the grant program two years ago, criticized Clausi for what he said Clausi characterized as a nonissue.

“Mr. Clausi indicated this was small potatoes, but when you have 177,000 small potatoes, they can really bury a taxpayer,” Shoch said.

The audit report shows Shoch was not out of line in asking questions about the program, Shoch said.

HUD is the second government agency to require the county to repay funds in the program.

After an audit was conducted by the state Department of Community and Economic Development that required Northumberland County to repay $188,325 in early 2013, commissioners wanted a second opinion from HUD.

In auditing the report, HUD found that 49 of 205 program recipients did not meet the guidelines.

HUD concluded that the county did not provide adequate oversight of the employee responsible for determining participant eligibility and maintaining documentation, and it lacked controls to ensure that it complied with program requirements for incurring expenses, processing draws and conducting inspections.

Clausi said the money would be repaid using Community Development Block Grant money or from the general fund.

He will not, however, be giving his consent to accept any more money from the federal government.

“I will not sign one more grant,” Clausi said. “I will not take a dollar. It’s insane we have to pay that back.”


Text Only
  • rundown25zope.jpg Blighted block going bye-bye in Atlas

    Nearly an entire township block in Atlas will be torn down in Mount Carmel Township, utilizing funds from Northumberland County and its Housing Authority in an effort to fight blight. Half of this block is proposed to be developed as low-income senior living units.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • eyebrows.jpg Coming Sunday: Browsing for brows

    As makeup sales soar, four tips to make your eyebrows raise others'. Coming Sunday

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 1WEATHER.jpg Deadly storm strikes Virginia campground

    A fierce storm packing powerful winds and rain toppled trees and flipped campers Thursday at a Virginia campground this morning, killing at least two people and sending at least 20 more to hospitals, officials said.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Official: Air Algerie flight ’probably crashed’

    An Air Algerie flight carrying 116 people from Burkina Faso to Algeria’s capital disappeared from radar early Thursday over northern Mali and “probably crashed,” according to the plane’s owner and government officials in France and Burkina Faso.

    July 24, 2014

  • 1gaza25.jpg Israeli fire hits UN facility in Gaza, killing 15

    Israeli tank shells hit a compound housing a U.N. school in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens who were seeking shelter from fierce clashes on the streets outside.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 1execution.jpg How Arizona, Ohio, Oklahoma, executions went awry

    Since the start of the year, executions in Ohio, Oklahoma and Arizona have gone awry, with inmates gasping for breath as lethal drugs coursed through their bodies.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Today's Editorial: One more job appears at risk

    July 24, 2014

  • Rabbi Conflict in Israel grounds Sunbury rabbi

    TEL AVIV, Israel — While the Israelis and Hamas traded rocket and missile strikes for a 16th day, Rabbi Nina Mandel is struggling to find her way back to Sunbury after the FAA on Wednesday announced that it would extend its ban on travel at Ben-Gurion International Airport for another 24 hours.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fatal24 Danville woman dies as logging truck crushes car in Valley Township

    DANVILLE — An 84-year-old Danville woman was killed when her car and a logging truck collided Wednesday afternoon at Routes 642 and 54 in Valley Township.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Docs: Fractures helped save rock victim's life

    DANVILLE — Sharon Budd’s condition is progressing nearly a week after a 13 1/2-hour procedure in which a team of surgeons rebuilt her facial bones and removed a damaged part of her brain, said two Geisinger Health System physicians who are part of that team

    July 24, 2014

The Daily Marquee

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.