Chester Housing Authority has been given a clean financial audit for fiscal year 2013, marking the eighth consecutive year under Executive Director Steven Fischer that auditors have reported financial operations of the agency totally in order. "The citizens of Chester have learned in recent years that not only does our housing authority operate openly and honestly but efficiently delivers services that the population we serve needs and expects," Fischer said.
"Receiving a clean audit validates the integrity with which we strive to do business." The auditors, Clifton Larson Allen LLP, reported that the federal budget cuts hurt the CHA's bottom line in the last fiscal year. The Authority's unrestricted cash and cash equivalent balance at June 30, 2013 finished $543,000 lower than the prior fiscal year."This reduction was primarily the result of decreased funding from HUD during FY 2013. Due to sequestration, the Authority received less subsidy in the Low Rent Program as compared to FY 2012. Additionally, the Authority received less administrative fee via the Housing Choice Voucher Program. As such, the Authority was forced to use some of its cash reserve to cover the day to day operations of the programs," according to the auditor's report.Fischer says despite the declining federal funding, the agency was able to maintain its current level of homes, approximately 20% of Chester's rental units, and provide solid maintenance and quality resident programs. In addition, almost all of the 100 new homes CHA built for sale have been built, sold and occupied. "We continuously seek partnerships with private businesses and non-profits in order to provide the kinds of programs lower-income families engage in to help them advance. When those organizations see CHA receiving clean audits and stretching every dollar, it encourages them and gives them confidence to invest in us," said Fischer. The audit also noted that the 2014 fiscal budget was prepared acknowledging increased costs and less operating revenue. That left CHA, which is funded almost entirely through federal dollars, with alternatives of again tapping its assets or enacting further cost-cutting measures. "While we advocate for Congress to reverse budget cuts of recent years for our vitally important housing programs, we have also demonstrated – and the audit verifies – that we can produce a lot with the dollars we receive," Fischer said.