Audit slams city housing program

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An audit of one of Augusta's housing programs funded by the federal government found that the city's controls over the program were inadequate.

The Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determined that more than $1 million in the city's HOME program involved questioned costs and money the city could lose.

The June 9 audit report recommended that the city prove the money in its HOME program was properly spent or repay $566,697 in questioned costs and lose $477,373 because of program violations.

The money would be repaid from funds that flow to the housing department from the federal government if it is available. If not, the city would be liable.

The audit found that the housing department did not:

- Properly commit $755,284.

- Have proper documentation to support project approvals and address project performance delays.

- Properly maintain and manage program staff.

- Ensure proper documentation of more than $196,657.

Augusta's Housing and Community Development Director Chester Wheeler said the audit findings are preliminary and he would meet with officials in HUD's Atlanta Office of Community Planning and Development before a final report is issued. He said the audit covers the period from 2003 through the first part of 2007, and that he did not become director until April 2007. The audit report states the audit is part of the activities in the fiscal year 2007 annual audit plan.

However, one member of the Housing Department's Citizens Advisory Board, which Mr. Wheeler refused to meet with and succeeded in disbanding after he became director last year, said regardless of what year the monies were allocated, it was Mr. Wheeler's job to make sure the funds were reprogrammed and spent in a timely fashion.

"Nobody in that department should be allowed to pass the buck," said former board member Barbara Gordon. "And it comes as no surprise to me that that department is in trouble again."

The advisory board was appointed by commissioners to provide oversight of the department, Ms. Gordon said.

"We were supposed to be the eyes and ears for the commission," she said. "Chester Wheeler is trying to run everything by himself."

Mr. Wheeler said the inspector general's interpretation of the requirement that the city spend HOME funds within 24 months is not in sync with the Atlanta Office of Community Planning's interpretation.

"I say that because we were audited by the Atlanta office last year, and we received no findings regarding timeliness," he said.

The audit was designed to determine whether the city complied with HOME program requirements for commitments, completion of project activities and eligibility and proof of project costs.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylvia.cooper@augustachronicle.com.

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nonumberplease
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nonumberplease 06/19/08 - 05:54 am
0
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The fed's need to audit

The fed's need to audit everything to do with richmond county
government!

christian134
1
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christian134 06/19/08 - 06:08 am
0
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Richmond County government is

Richmond County government is a fine example of greed and incompetence, in my opinion....:-) These instances of incompetence should one day be worthy of textbook material...

nightsrider
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nightsrider 06/19/08 - 06:26 am
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Wonder who the individuals

Wonder who the individuals are who oversees this program.

stadry
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stadry 06/19/08 - 07:28 am
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who could've ever thought

who could've ever thought this would be possible in augusta ??? mismanagement, incompetence, hiring the unqualified & lazy ??? tell me its not true !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HYPOCRITES 08
7
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HYPOCRITES 08 06/19/08 - 07:30 am
0
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All you have to do is request

All you have to do is request the information or see how you can serve.

dani
12
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dani 06/19/08 - 07:34 am
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Is it not possible to hire

Is it not possible to hire department heads who know what they are doing? Where is the city finding their employees?. I have worked in banks and large corporations for years, and seldom, if ever, did I see a department head who was not qualified for the position he held. Things are really smelling in this county.

nightsrider
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nightsrider 06/19/08 - 07:38 am
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It's called nespotism, dani,

It's called nespotism, dani, you don't have to be qualified. Look who's running the city, simple enough.

dani
12
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dani 06/19/08 - 07:46 am
0
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night..I am sure you are

night..I am sure you are right, but we are talking about big bucks. Now, Where are the defenders? I haven't seen them yet.

luckie
2
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luckie 06/19/08 - 07:55 am
0
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I guess the city can pay an

I guess the city can pay an outsider to come in and do an audit~~~~!

White_Trash1
0
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White_Trash1 06/19/08 - 07:59 am
0
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Let the fox guard the hen

Let the fox guard the hen house....... again

nightsrider
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nightsrider 06/19/08 - 08:03 am
0
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Tech, I don't think you have

Tech, I don't think you have to pay the Inspector General.

karmakills123
8
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karmakills123 06/19/08 - 08:07 am
0
0
"The advisory board was

"The advisory board was appointed by commissioners to provide oversight of the department, Ms. Gordon said." ...This one sentence says it all.and your right possum as is nightrider.

NEone
6
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NEone 06/19/08 - 08:15 am
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Nightsrider: I think it's

Nightsrider: I think it's called "nepotism".

nightsrider
0
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nightsrider 06/19/08 - 08:21 am
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neone, did you get the

neone, did you get the point???? Nuff said!!!!

justus4
105
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justus4 06/19/08 - 08:38 am
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Why are law enforcement
Unpublished

Why are law enforcement actions never audited and reported? It has public accountability and if a minority had any management related functions there, that office would be addressed in this same fashion. How much evidence gets lost, misplaced & no report in the paper. Why? It's always the same, anywhere minorities have responsibility, look for some story about mismanagement, loss of funds, etc. Again, nothing new here...

Little Lamb
46920
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Little Lamb 06/19/08 - 08:42 am
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You asked a good question,

You asked a good question, Nightsrider. The person overseeing this HOME program is Fred Russell. I have it on good authority that when Sylvia Cooper asked him for a comment, he said, "What, me worry?" The Augusta Commission has never held Fred Russell accountable for anything.

nightsriders
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nightsriders 06/19/08 - 09:02 am
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You hit the nail on the head

You hit the nail on the head justus--anytime a miniority has responsibility for anything, you best keep an eye out. Glad you said it and I didn't have to.

dani
12
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dani 06/19/08 - 09:47 am
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Is it my imagination or does

Is it my imagination or does minorities hold most of these positions? If so, there could be a reason for seeing them mentioned more than whites. The law of average, you know. Nothing racial about it.

deekster
24
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deekster 06/19/08 - 09:50 am
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Remember "God's Little Acre"

Remember "God's Little Acre" and "Tobacco Road". They were "Documentaries".

TrukinRanger
1748
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TrukinRanger 06/19/08 - 10:04 am
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Minority? What minority? What
Unpublished

Minority? What minority? What are the Lationos & Indians in charge of?

dani
12
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dani 06/19/08 - 10:14 am
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Truckin..some reports (like

Truckin..some reports (like the election returns) estimate more Latinos than blacks now. I don't know how true that is.

nightsriders
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nightsriders 06/19/08 - 10:19 am
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Keepontrucking, dani is

Keepontrucking, dani is right, hispanics out number blacks in this ol country now! And we use minorities in reference to blacks because that's how they like to refer to themselves.

bone
23
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bone 06/19/08 - 10:25 am
0
0
this story breaks my heart:

this story breaks my heart: my stolen tax dollars didn't get to the right thieves.

deekster
24
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deekster 06/19/08 - 10:45 am
0
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Downtown, Downtown. When

Downtown, Downtown. When you are low and life is making you lonely, you can always go, Downtown.

deekster
24
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deekster 06/19/08 - 10:48 am
0
0
What happened to all of the

What happened to all of the great neighborhoods? Frog Hollar, Harrisburg, Hot Town, Fleming, Wilkinson Gardens, Albion Acres............,

deekster
24
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deekster 06/19/08 - 10:49 am
0
0
Opps (-: I know (-:

Opps (-: I know (-:

STAYFOCUSED
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STAYFOCUSED 06/19/08 - 11:00 am
0
0
yes, they are hiring the

yes, they are hiring the incompetent, unqualified, and the lazy. i know this to be a known fact. there's an housing employee that's over a housing apartment complex that's never in the office, has all the members of her family living in the apartment complex, rides around in the company maintenance vehicle doing her personal errands and should i go on!!!!!!!!!!! must i say blacks are not the only race that's incompentent and lazy.

HYPOCRITES 08
7
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HYPOCRITES 08 06/19/08 - 11:12 am
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" Anytime a minority has

" Anytime a minority has responsibility for anything, you best keep an eye out". What an idiotic statement.

intheknow
16
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intheknow 06/19/08 - 11:22 am
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Yes, keep on watching those

Yes, keep on watching those minorities. As I recall the last few cases where hundred of thousands of dollars, were done mostly by White females. Why do some people have to make everything about race.

jack
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jack 06/19/08 - 11:31 am
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Nightrider, the word is

Nightrider, the word is nopotism and you are right so far as hiring incompetent people in A/RC government. Bad ting about it, yu can't get them fired if they are black. Geri Sams is a good example as is this guy.

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