By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
MERCER COUNTY —
In the era of fewer federal dollars, the catchword among housing authorities is “deferred maintenance.”
Mercer County Housing Authority is adopting the philosophy in its 2013-14 budget for public housing, said Executive Director Nannette Livadas.
With a budget that shows an expected $462,885 drop in income – most of it due to a cut in federal subsidy – authority officials are not shy about wielding a budget knife.
But they took an axe to capital expenses, which is where they get the money for stoves, refrigerators, roof replacement projects and other expensive, long-lasting supplies and projects. This line item was cut by $225,415.
“That’s a lot of work,” Livadas said.
She added that the income the authority expects to receive is “hopeful” as the federal government can change the amount of money it passes on from month to month, and the authority budget, which runs from July through June, spans two federal budgets.
Officials bumped up the administration expense to hire two assistant site managers, and will keep the security guards hired at a couple of housing complexes last year while installing more video surveillance cameras.
They cut the maintenance budget by planning to use more part-time workers and making site-based purchases of supplies and materials instead of centralized purchases, said Comptroller Connie Moroco.
The utility expense is going down largely because of lower electric costs, while property, liability and workers’ compensation insurance is going up.
The budget shows income of $3,399,205, down from $3,862,089 this year, and expenses of $3,124,986, down from $3,232,348.
Utility allowances for residents will go down by 5 percent for electricity, but up by 9 percent for natural gas.
Livadas also set as goals for the next year devising succession plans for staff – upper managers are about the same age and could retire at about the same time – and board members, and looking for money to renovate the Chavers Center in Farrell and build new homes at Gurrera Village in Hermitage.
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Here is a breakdown of Mercer County Housing Authority’s fiscal year 2014 budget, with 2013 figures in parentheses.
• Administration, $1,132,699 ($1,093,258).
• Tenant services, $54,137 ($55,169).
• Utilities, $549,032 ($602,730).
• Maintenance, $1,004,230 ($1,159,289).
• Protective services, $40,000 (0).
• Insurance, $165,700, ($140,280).
• General expenses, $102,149 ($104,582)
Total expenses: $3,124,986 ($3,232,348).
• Operating income, $3,399,204 ($3,862.089) with expected federal subsidy of $2,458,691 ($2,919,348) and projected new tenant rents of $873,563 ($806,021).