Fairfield Housing Authority starts paying off debt
The Fairfield Housing Authority on Wednesday gave the town $100,000 toward its debt of more than $165,000.
The town's Finance Department had processed the FHA's payroll for years and was reimbursed by the housing agency. However, the FHA, which had switched to a private payroll processing company in December 2010, had not paid its bill to the town since June 2010.
Chief Fiscal Officer Paul Hiller told the Board of Selectmen on its meeting later Wednesday that he met with FHA Chairwoman Carol Landsman, Vice Chairwoman Rita Waterman and Executive Director Elizabeth Gutierrez last Friday, when they agreed to remit $100,000 and work out a payment schedule for the balance of $65,804.94.
The FHA, which is an independent agency, manages Trefoil Court and Pine Tree housing complexes for senior citizens and the disabled as well as the Housing Choice Voucher Section 8 Program. Hiller explained that the FHA has had three executive directors in the last four years and its accountant, who had worked for the agency for 35 years, has been replaced in the last 60 days.
In addition to transitioning to a new accountant, the FHA will conduct an audit of its books, slated to begin next week. Hiller said he agreed with the agency representatives to wait until the audit is complete before arranging a payment schedule. He said his department will review the audit and return to the selectmen in the fall with a recommendation for the next step.
"There has been a spirit of cooperation with the executive board and the executive director," said Hiller. "We are in the process of resolving it. They acknowledge the indebtedness. They would like just to work through the transition."
While Selectman Jim Walsh noted he was pleased with the payment, he asked Hiller about FHA's assets. Hiller responded that Pine Tree and Trefoil Court, which are undergoing some renovations, have assets but the Section 8 program's is minimal.
Commenting on his discussions with the FHA, interim First Selectman Michael Tetreau said, "Because this organization does such great work for seniors, for the community, they are such an important part of the services we offer our citizens and because they stepped up to the plate and made such a huge down payment on this, what they really wanted was time to sort out payments they were comfortable with.
"Our concern was that whatever payment plan we agree to doesn't impact their ability to deliver services."