BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Traver Aiken, executive director of the Blue Ridge Housing Authority, told Authority board members at their monthly meeting Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017, of the Blue Ridge City Council’s recent decision to allow the BRHA to forego remittance of its final 2016 Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) to the city.
At the city council’s Dec. 12 meeting, the council unanimously approved the PILOT abstention in the amount of $1,530.75 as a means to offset costs paid by the BRHA earlier this year to repair a retaining wall at its Boardtown Road property. Repairs to the wall were necessary after repairs to a failing sewer line located beneath the wall were completed. Ultimately, it was determined that the city was responsible for the sewer line.
In addition, Aiken informed the Authority the city would begin work to replace another sewer line located between the East First Street and East Second Street BRHA apartments sometime in January 2018.
Authority board member Bill Tilly expressed his appreciation to the city for the upcoming work but added, “It’s a shame that it took (the city council) a year and half to make this decision.”
Aiken also reported to the Authority that retained earnings were above projection for the year. According to Aiken, as of Nov. 30, the BRHA had $56,339.51 in actual retained earnings, which is almost $26,000 above the protected year-to-date estimate of $30,668.
Total operating income was also above projections for the year, Aiken stated. As of Nov. 30, the BRHA total operating income stood at $310,897.43, which is $27,611.43 above projection.
“It’s a combination of rent collection, increased rents, making sure that income is being properly reported, and then also collecting on outstanding debts that have been out there,” Aiken explained. “So we’re getting there. We’re making progress.”
Also, Aiken told the board members several site improvements projects were completed during 2017, including grounds beautification and the recent weather stripping upgrades at the residences.
“It’s not like we were just collecting the money and sitting on it,” Aiken added. “You can’t just say we’ve collected capital fund money and put it in operating and we’re good. We actually did capital improvements as well and still came out positive.”
Commenting on the weather stripping upgrades, resident board member Ellan Johnson stated, “You can tell a difference right away.”
Also, at the meeting, the Authority met briefly in executive session and, after reconvening, approved a resolution for the 2017 performance incentives for the BRHA maintenance and administration personnel.
Following this, Tilly expressed his appreciation for Aiken as well as the other board members by saying, “I appreciate everybody on this board. You all have done an excellent job this year. I appreciate everybody being here, and I appreciate the time everybody’s put in. I appreciate (Aiken) going to the city working (the sewer line issues) out. Things are rapidly improving over what they were three, four or five years ago.”
In the same vein, Johnson also told Aiken, “And the residents appreciate and respect you too for all the accommodations you (provided) us.”
“That means a lot to me,” Aiken responded. “The greatest compliment I get is from a resident.”
Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.