OVHC considers issues during meeting

Skip Schulz/For the Gazette The Ontonagon Village Housing Commission discussed the possibility of taking money from their budget to hire an attorney and an additional audit along with snow removal.

The Ontonagon Village Housing Commission discussed the possibility of taking money from their budget to hire an attorney and pay for an additional audit.

Throughout 2017, the Ontonagon Village Housing Commission (OVHC) Board has been seeking to get the deed for the land that their senior and low income housing resides on. The current deed is with the Village of Ontonagon.

Like other states, in Michigan, much of the property a Housing Commission manages is owned by that commission.

“For us (OVHC) to be able to get funding from HUD (Housing Urban Development) and other grants, the property has to be in our name,” said Sally Jarvey.

Jarvey has stated this at numerous OVHC meetings.

“At a recent RAD (Rental Assistance Demonstration) seminar, they went over how Housing Commissions are able to get grants,” said Jarvey. “We could use this grant money to go from the expensive electric heat to natural gas. We could use this for the much-needed roofing.”

The meeting took place before the Ontonagon Village Council meeting. Ontonagon Village Manager Joe Erickson, who also is on the OVHC Board, stated that this issue is “simply a formality dealing with the Village’s attorney.”

While Jarvey said that the delay in getting funds from HUD in the past was due to the OVHC’s board not getting the minutes to prior meetings approved by the board, which is not the problem with getting over $100,000 from HUD currently.

Board Member Richard Ernest was the lone dissenting vote on approving the December minutes. Ernest stated at the start of the meeting that he had not pre-read the minutes.

OVHC Secretary Sue Lockhart stated that the Board gets their minutes on the Friday before the Monday meeting.

Ernest opened the meeting asking to have “Board Concerns” added to the agenda at the end of the meeting. The concern Ernest had in the past, and continues to have, is getting the OVHC to approve an additional audit of their finances.

Ernest also wants the OVHC to look at hiring an attorney, “preferably from out of the local area.” At previous meetings, Ernest wanted a “forensic audit,” which deals with a criminal investigation.

Ernest stated that the additional audit does not necessarily have to be a “forensic audit.” This prompted Ernest and Erickson to schedule a special meeting on Monday, Jan. 15, to discuss the hiring of an attorney. That will be an open meeting and will start at 3:30 p.m.

If the board was to hire an attorney and have another audit done, the funds for it would come from the OVHC.

“This is why we need another audit,” said Ernest in response to a question by Erickson about the purchase of gasoline by OVHC employees at the local Holiday station.

Throughout Monday’s meeting, the board talked about the five-year budget they are working with. In addition to going from electric heat to natural gas, the board talked about recent problems with the snow blower attachment for their tractor.

“Our snow blower broke down during the recent heavy snowfall,” said Jarvey during her director’s report. “I would like to thank Billy (Marks) for coming in on the holidays to take care of the massive amounts of snow received and making sure everyone could get in and out.

“I also would like to thank the rest of the staff for trying to keep things running as smoothly as possible.”

Resident Carlene Morningstar addressed the board in regards to getting the walkways shoveled.

“I heard that an additional person was hired to do this,” said Morningstar. “I am just asking to see how we can get this done.”

Jarvey stated that the additional person hired to remove snow is when Marks is not available.

“I think Billy (Marks) does a great job, and I want this in the minutes,” Morningstar stated.