After looking through the city audit,
The finance report received criticism from council, and created more questions than answers.
"I was disappointed in the presentation. It was difficult to get answers to very important questions," said Councilman Tom Ellington.
Questions revolving around HUD grant money the city used to maintain houses that were unsold. Macon City Council received a break down of the Economic and Community Development expenses and found glaring issues with how grant money is being spent. According to the report vandalism has taken a toll on the houses. The house on
"That's just one of the problems being stuck with these houses which happened when the housing market crashed. We need to get out of that business all together for the time being," said Ellington.
The city used HUD grant money to maintain utilities, security, and insurance. Administration hopes HUD will give a special waiver to allow these expenses to be covered by the grant money. HUD is requiring the city to separate the costs into two groups, holding costs, or money used for regular upkeep and utilities, and repair costs.
"The holding cost they will consider to be eligible expenditures which mean that that's money you can spend HUD funds for, an eligible expenditure. The repair costs however is going to require that we submit an application for a waiver, that they will review, they will add their comments and refer to Washington where it will have to be determined whether or not to grant the waiver," said Macon Mayor, Robert Reichert.
As of March 1st the city will no longer provide the money to maintain the 23 HUD-funded houses. The Economic Opportunity Committee partners with the city to market and sell the houses and will have to figure out how to maintain the houses for sale.
Council members say it's hard to sell the houses to lower income families in the economic state of the housing market.
"We need to figure out a way to get them out of our hands they need to sell. We can’t just put them on the open market because of the way they were constructed they have to we either have to get some waiver from HUD or meet the requirements of that program," said Reichert.
City administration must have the list of expenses sent to HUD by February 28th. City officials who spoke with HUD say the vandalism costs from these houses might have to be paid by the city. The total vandalism cost to date from these properties is more than $300,000.