July 21, 2013

Dalton Housing Authority ends top post

Directors looking at change of direction

Charles Oliver

— The Dalton Housing Authority no longer has an executive director.

“The board and the personnel committee have decided to eliminate that position,” said housing authority board chairman Alan Jewell.

Jewell said that Scott Painter, who has served as the executive director since January 2010, was let go earlier this month.

“We’ve been looking at finances and trying to make out budgets work. That was our highest paid position, so that was one area that we decided to look at,” Jewell said.

The housing authority has an annual budget of about $1.6 million, and Painter was being paid about $105,000 a year, according to Jewell.

“Our business is really property management. We really are a non-profit management company. We don’t need the administrative staff and expense that we had,” Jewell said. “We thought the remainder of our staff could manage our properties.”

The housing authority currently has a staff of four in its office and four maintenance workers.

“We contract out a lot of our maintenance. Our maintenance guys do emergency repairs. Someone’s on call 24 hours. They do smaller stuff, but if, say, we need a new roof, we contract that out,” Jewell said.

Painter, who had previously been the authority’s maintenance and property manager, did not immediately return a telephone message last week.

The State Housing Authority created the Dalton Housing Authority in the 1950s. It is not affiliated with the city of Dalton, though its board members are appointed by the City Council. It does not receive any federal, state or local funds. The authority is funded entirely by rent and income from its investments.

“It has been 20 or 30 years since we took any vouchers or got any rental assistance from HUD (the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development),” Jewell said.

Jewell said board members want the housing authority to become more active, to start doing business with state and federal agencies again and perhaps tear down some of its aging units and build new ones.

“The (Georgia) Department of Community Affairs won’t allow you to get a low-income tax credit loan or any other cheap money to build unless you’ve built something before, and we haven’t done that in many years,” Jewell said. “So we are going to have to find a partner who has done that before. From what we have been told, we’ll have to do three projects with partners before we can do one on our own. You don’t do a project every year. It’s more like every two or three years. So we are talking seven or eight or even 10 years before we do that fourth project on our own.”

But Jewell said that even then it may make more sense for the housing authority to continue to work with partners.

“Atlanta does not have a developer on staff. They partner on everything they do,” he said.