Friday, May 15, 2015

HHA Shocker: $2.5 million reserve loss turned into 500K surplus



In a complete and shocking turnaround, the Hoboken Housing Authority announced its second quarter financials at its monthly meeting yesterday and the results are a stunner.

Last year, the agency left in shambles under controversial Executive Director Carmelo Garcia rode through a $2.5 million hit on the agency reserves.

With temporary ED Bob Divincent and HHA commissioner David Dening, the head of the finance committee, the agency announced it completely eliminated the hit on those reserves losses with numerous problems reversed and retains $500K in reserves.

The amazing turnabout comes in less then a single calendar year.

Reasons for the dramatic turnaround are effectuated by tightening contracts, computerized controls over inventory not in place previously and elimination of other 'back door' avenues. (MSV highlighted the problems previously in an exclusive audit report of the agency.)

Bob DiVincent addressed the turnaround and the full details in a telephone interview saying, "By streamlining the agency, concentrating on inventory, utility consumption and improving collection and occupancy rates we were able to make up the reserve losses."

DiVincent said when he last ran the agency six year ago, it was $3 million in the red and when he left it was a six million dollar swing into the black on his departure.

But last year, $2.5 million in the agency's reserves had been depleted and numerous procurement controversies were exposed and highlighted in an audit with questionable contracts.

Additional reasons for the dramatic improvement mentioned: the inventory system coming fully online several weeks back, (pieces going onlines over some months) and structural changes in "tightening up purchasing" and cutting back on overtime and part time work.

"We cut back on a lot of overtime and part timers doing 40 hours a week," DiVincent who concluded saying,  "It all contributed to the savings."

The HHA Board also voted to approve a $264,000 contract to install a front door locking systems to all its building by mid-summer, a welcome development since Superstorm Sandy for all HHA residents

Of additional importance, after two years six generators are almost set in place. They had been lingering in the HHA parking lots raising eyebrows across Hoboken.

Dana Wefer was re-elected to serve as chair an additional year in a 5-0 vote. HHA commissioner James Sanford was elected Vice Chair. Commissioner Dave Mello arrived after the reorganization vote and Judy Burrell was not in attendance.

Interim Hoboken Housing Authority Executive Director Bob DiVincent
delivered a stunning turnaround in the agency's $2.5 million reserve loss.
The second quarter finances now show a $500,000 surplus.

Talking Ed Note: The HHA commissioners working in tandem with the interim Director deserve a ton of credit for all their efforts to get the agency on track - and then some.

Correction: The story earlier noted a deficit not a hit on the $2.5 million reserves and has been updated accordingly.

photo courtesy Hudson County View