MERCER COUNTY Housing authority's budget for the next year shrinks

The authority has been told that its federal subsidy will be cut by at least 10 percent.
SHARON, Pa. -- The Mercer County Housing Authority will operate on about $240,000 less in the next fiscal year, largely because of a cut in a federal subsidy.
The authority's board of directors approved a $2,753,113 spending plan Wednesday. It takes effect July 1 and runs through June 30, 2004.
The current year's budget total is $2,993,141
L. DeWitt Boosel, the authority's executive director, said a cut in federal operating subsidy from the U.S. Department of Housing & amp; Urban Development is the primary factor in the lower budget.
The authority has been allocated a $2,135,225 subsidy for 2003-04, but it has been warned by HUD that federal cutbacks mean the authority won't be getting any more than 90 percent of that amount.
That means a $1,921,703 subsidy, Boosel said.
The authority cut two full-time and one part-time administrative positions in the new budget. No one will be furloughed. The positions are vacant and just won't be filled, he said.
The authority will also have to dip into its savings to balance the spending plan. Boosel said $34,074 will be needed to make revenues match expenditures.
The federal subsidy makes up the largest part of the authority budget. Boosel said $797,336 in rent and smaller income sources will complete the revenue side of the budget.
Other action taken
In other matters, the board:
UReviewed plans for the exterior renovation of the authority's 61-unit Sharpsville Gardens apartment complex in Sharpsville. The authority has a $1.2 million grant to pay for the work, but that may not be enough. Boosel said the project might have to be scaled back, particularly in terms of placing overhead utility lines in underground conduits.
The Pennsylvania Power Co. and the Verizon telephone company want a total of $111,000 to run their lines underground, even through the authority will pay separately to have the trenches dug and underground conduits installed for the wiring.
The utility company charges involve running wires through those conduits and making new connections, he said, adding that it's a cost the authority may be unable to afford.
UApproved putting up $10,000 for a six-month purchase option on 18.9 acres on Lamor Road in Hermitage as the proposed site of a 76-unit apartment complex for the elderly. The project is a joint effort with the city of Hermitage.
Boosel said the land sale price is $226,800. The option will keep the land available while the authority finalizes project plans and arranges for construction financing, he said, noting that no cost estimates have been prepared yet.