Augusta Housing Authority approves operating budget with $800,000 deficit

Reductions in federal subsidies will require the Augusta Housing Authority to operate using money from its reserves in the coming fiscal year.

On Thursday, the housing authority’s board of commissioners approved an operating budget for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014, with a projected $800,000 deficit.

Subsidies from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development were down 13 percent, compared with the current fiscal year. The housing authority took an additional 5 percent hit from sequestration, or widespread federal spending cuts that began March 1, said Jacob Oglesby, the executive director of the Augusta Housing Authority.

Because of the reductions, the operating budget does not include money to fill 12 of 13 vacant staff positions or pay salary increases or cost-of-living adjustments, Oglesby said.

The housing authority will limit replacements of equipment such as refrigerators in housing units and will hold off on replacing older vehicles in its fleet.

“We’re not going to be able to replace items as often as we would,” he said. “The basic services we provide to residents, we’re going to keep up with those.”

Last fiscal year, the housing authority used $3 million from its reserves for the operating budget. Between $6 million and $7 million remains.

“The way we expect to be funded over the next few years, we are probably going to need some of those reserves to operate,” Oglesby said.

In other news, the housing authority is nearing the completion of an environmental review required in the process to demolish Cherry Tree Crossing, a public housing project. After a public hearing and approval of a board resolution, the application for demolition is expected to be submitted to HUD in late May, Oglesby said.

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