November 27, 2014

County approves contract with new housing agent

Posted

STANDISH — The Arenac County Board of Commissioners approved a contract with Housing Consulting Services LLC during its Jan. 7 meeting.

The contract was approved 4-1, with Commissioner Jeff Trombley voting no.

Last month, the board voted to terminate its contract with Northeast Michigan Affordable Housing, after learning NEMAH was no longer eligible for grant funding from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

While the county ended its affiliation with NEMAH, that does not mean it will be with an unfamiliar housing agent, as former NEMAH administrator Lee Ann Fischer is the owner of Housing Consulting Services, which is based in Prudenville.

Amounts payable to Housing Consulting Services vary in the contract. A copy of the contract shows that if the services are rendered for a Community Development Block Grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the company will receive a rate of 18 percent of the grant amount, plus 10 percent of the hard project cost.

If a grant is secured through MSHDA, the contract calls for the service to be paid 5 percent of the amount of the grant, plus 15 percent of the soft cost of the monies spent.

Grants secured through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Housing Preservation Grant program will see Fischer be paid at a rate of 15 percent of the project monies spent, as well as 15 percent of the grant income relative to administration purposes.

Prior to the vote being taken, Trombley said he thought the county should look at other options, even though it had a good relationship with Fischer, whose business has only been established for a short time.

“I think we ought to maybe look around a little bit,” he said. “I think Lee Ann does a wonderful job, don’t get me wrong. She’s brought a lot of money to the county, but she’s just starting up.”

Commissioner Dave Munson said Fischer had already been appointed by Ogemaw County, another former client of NEMAH. He added that since the contract has an opt-out clause, he did not believe the inexperience was a major deal.

“If we have a 30-day opt out period then I don’t see why there’s an issue,” he said.

Commissioner Robert Luce said while Fischer’s company is new, she was still the best bet for the county to continue to be approved for housing grants.

“She knows everybody at the other end where she’s getting these grants,” he said.

In other board of commissioner news, the elected its chairman and vice-chairman for the next two years during its committee-of-a-whole meeting the morning of Jan. 7. Munson was elected board chairman, and Trombley was elected vice-chairman.

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