Plymouth Housing Authority 'turned around the ocean liner'

Published on Thursday, 7 September 2017 22:53
Written by SUSAN CORICA

STAFF WRITER

PLYMOUTH - The Housing Authority’s finances have turned around to show a small profit this year, according to an audit for the past two years.

Vinnie Klimas, housing authority chairman, presented the audit to the Town Council this week, saying the housing authority has “turned around the ocean liner of our financial problems.”

The authority oversees Gosinski Park, the town’s 60-unit housing development for low-income, disabled and elderly residents.

The audit report, which was compiled by Jason Geel, a certified public accountant with Maletta & Co. of Bristol, was done in the wake of a personnel shakeup in 2015, in which the council replaced most of the authority’s membership.

Klimas said communication between the authority and the council has also greatly improved in since then.

His presentation showed the authority had five years of operational deficits, ending in 2015. That year, the authority had a net loss of $11,665, with “even bigger deficits in previous years,” he said. By the end of 2016, it was showing a net gain of $2,814.

“I think we have a much more properly balanced board of directors to turn this ocean liner around, and as far as I’m concerned we’re heading in the right direction,” said Klimas, a licensed nursing home operator. “We still have things to deal with, but we had an excellent audit.”

He thanked Mayor David Merchant and the council for their support. “Without your help in reconstituting the Housing Authority we would not have been able to make these changes,” he said.

From 2005 to 2010 there were marginal profits made, which is good, he said, adding: “You want to have a little marginal profit each year, but then you had five years of serious deficits.”

He showed a 10-year comparison of “unappropriated retained earnings,” which functions as a reserve fund primarily for repairs and maintenance. The fund had hovered around the $400,000 to $450,000 mark between 2005 and 2010, then it dropped steadily for the next four years, reaching a low of about $100,000 in 2014. For 2016 it had increased to a little over $160,000.

Previous management was using those funds to offset operational expenditures, he said. “We have basically reserved that trend and I would love to get that up to around $250,000 in the next couple of years.”

Klimas said the housing authority was first organized in 1965 and Gosinski Park was built in 1968. He said he has long had an interest in the development since it was built on the baseball field where he played as a child and his mother served on the original housing authority.

He said Gosinski Park reached 100 percent occupancy earlier this year, but currently has four vacancies.

“We certainly tell the public please come and submit applications for those vacancies. We’re in the midst of painting them and turning them around,” he said. “But remember, we had 10 units that were empty for 12 years, that just blows me away.”

Council member Daniel Gentile said he visited Gosinski Park recently.

“It’s a whole different feel up there now, everything is nice. I know there’s a lot of [maintenance] work that’s been done,” he said.

Gentile joked that the council would double Klimas’ pay as volunteer chairman, to “double zero.”

Merchant echoed Gentile’s praise.

“I know in 2013, when I was first made aware of some of the issues down there, they were within a year of bankruptcy,” Merchant said. “I’ve been down there a couple of times and the horror stories the residents told me were unbelievable. You go down there now and it’s a complete turnaround.”

Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or scorica@bristolpress.com.



Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol, General News, Plymouth on Thursday, 7 September 2017 22:53. Updated: Thursday, 7 September 2017 22:55.