FRHA owes $111,000-plus for unpaid bills

Published 6:53 pm Friday, September 13, 2019

HUD inspection: Berkley Court needs many repairs


The Franklin Redevelopment and Housing Authority owes $111,310.56 in unpaid bills for August and September, and only $6,852.25 is in the bank. This was made known by in-house accountant Victor Mitchell during a special called meeting of the FRHA board of directors on Thursday evening.

Loretta Batten, who has been named interim executive director by the board, confirmed the approximate amounts to The Tidewater News on Friday afternoon. She said she’s been with FRHA for 20 years and has held several positions such as acting director of finance, accountant and housing technician.

Asked how the debts could be settled, Batten said, “We’re still trying to determine how we’re going to do it. Plans are in the making.”

This revelation follows nearly two weeks after Philip Page Jr. was removed by the board on Aug. 28. He had been the authority’s executive director since 2011. Councilman Greg McLemore, who also sits on the authority’s board along with Councilman Linwood Johnson, said financial discrepancies led to Page’s dismissal.

At that the time the paper announced the separation on Sept. 1, Johnson also confirmed that the FRHA had been experiencing major financial issues, and that investigation is being conducted into the authority’s finances. For example, the council representative said there had been more than one occasion this year when power and phone service at the FRHA offices had been disconnected for non-payment of bills. Also, the housing authority employees went without pay on Aug. 30.

Money to operate the FHRA is derived from state and federal monies as well as tenants’ rents.

Batten, who said on Friday that employees were paid that day, stated that Mitchell and herself will be monitoring the finances more closely to avoid [a repeat] of the financial situation. She also said, “Our goal is provide regular reports [to the board] on finances.”

In another board matter, the interim director stated that Berkley Court was recently inspected as part of the property’s annual review. From that, several issues were brought to the authority’s attention. Damaged siding, wobbly handrails, a broken mailbox, exposed wires, broken windows, infestation of roaches and smoke alarms in need for wiring or batteries are some of the issues. The review was done by an inspector hired by Housing and Urban Development. Reportedly, the authority has to resolve these issues within August. No specific deadline or consequences were given.