In addition to managing a number of low-income housing properties in the area, the Warren County Housing Authority has been acting as the management agent for Canterbury Court, reporting to the Canterbury board of directors on the building's budget, occupancy rates, evictions, work orders and more.
Recently, Tonya Mitchell-Weston, executive director for the housing authority, informed the board that she did not have signatory authority to pay the bills for Canterbury Court.
Tracey Kranak, the authority's financial director, must track down Canterbury Court board members to get paperwork signed, she added.
Mitchell-Weston said, "Essentially, we were given ultimate responsibility (for management) but not the authority."
She said she would love to see more involvement by the Canterbury board, but "they are used to things the way they were under my predecessor."
Mitchell-Weston offered some possible solutions, including having the Canterbury board meet more often; it currently meet only once a year. She said another possibility would be the housing authority absorbing Canterbury Court, or, "if they felt so inclined, they could get a new management agent."
Another Canterbury issue is its status as a non-profit. "It is tax-exempt for everything except real estate," she noted.
Mitchell-Weston said she met with the Warren County Board of Assessments, and "it appeared to go very well." She added that Canterbury met all five HUP requirements for a non-profit, and is already recognized as such by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, although not by Warren County.
The HUP requirements are:
Advance a charitable purpose,
Donate or render gratuitously a substantial portion of its services,
Benefit a substantial and indefinite class of persons who are legitimate subjects of charity,
Relieve the government of some of its burden,
Operate entirely free from private profit motive.
She said that a Payment In Lieu of Taxes, or PILOT would be more affordable. Around $80,000 has already been paid this year to avoid tax penalties, and the Canterbury board is looking at a $32,473 deficit.
There are maintenance issues with the building as well, according to Mitchell-Weston. Re-occurring problems with the elevator has forced residents to use the stairs, sometimes for several days.
Both internal and third-party needs assessments have identified work that should be accomplished. A new elevator that is large enough to accommodate medical gurneys is the first priority, Mitchell-Weston said, adding, "Once a new elevator is installed, the old one would be taken off-line and completely revamped."
She added that some of the improvements on the list were "warm and fuzzy," like new kitchen and bath floors and kitchen countertops. The building is 26 years old, she noted, and while still beautiful, it doesn't compare with downtown apartments. Given the cost of a new elevator, however, she said the cosmetics would have to wait.
The third-party needs assessment also commended the maintenance crews "for a job well done."