Audit request ‘blindsided’ Jonesboro Housing Authority

Executive director vows records are clean

— The Jonesboro Housing Authority learned Clayton County officials were planning to audit the group from a newspaper article instead of first hearing it from county representatives, according to the head of the authority.

Last week, Clayton News Daily reported the county commission decided to bring in an accountant to audit Jonesboro Housing Authority records for the rehabilitation of properties located behind the Historic Clayton County Courthouse. County documents allege there were deficiencies and building code violations in the rehabilitated units.

The documents also allege the way the authority spent Community Development Block Grant funds “raised questions about the use of funds per the number of units rehabilitated.”

That was news to housing authority Executive Director Louise Kidd.

“It was like being blindsided,” said Kidd. “We had no idea it was even being discussed.”

Kidd said the authority believes it will be vindicated in any audit the county conducts into how the grant funds were spent, and she added the group welcomes the examination. The county is spending $9,500 to bring in the Atlanta-based accounting firm, PJC Group, LLC, to conduct the audit.

Kidd said the housing authority has not been contacted by the accounting firm, or the county, about the audit since the commission’s vote last week.

Earlier this year, however, the county received a copy of an independent audit report — completed in February — that looked into the spending of the housing authority’s funds, up to Sept. 30, 2011, said Kidd. The audit was completed by the Lawrenceville-based auditing firm, Rector & Reeder PC.

The Jonesboro Housing Authority always includes a copy of its most recent audit in its grant applications to the county, said Kidd.

“We are very confident our records are in order,” she said. “We’ve already been audited by an independent auditor and we had no findings of significant issues.”

Kidd said she is reserving further comment on the matter until the PJC audit is completed.

Her comments about how the authority found out about the audit do fall in line with similar comments Jonesboro Mayor Joy Day made to Clayton News Daily last week. Jonesboro officials appoint the authority’s board of commissioners.

The executive director’s comments seem to conflict, however, with county documents dated Aug. 25, 2012, which imply the housing authority knew an audit was being recommended after the county’s HUD office began withholding grant funds over its concerns.

Kidd said she has not seen the documents in question, and therefore declined to comment on the claims made in them.

Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell declined to specifically address Kidd’s assertions, but he reiterated his previous stance that the Jonesboro Housing Authority has been the subject of several citizens’ complaints.

“My office has had numerous complaints about the quality of service over there, and I’ve asked my staff to look at it,” said Bell.