Posted: Aug 27, 2010 6:36 PM by Shawn Kline
Updated: Aug 27, 2010 6:37 PM
Board positions with the Lafayette Housing Authority are still up in the air... following an audit highlighting questionable payroll practices.
City-Parish President Joey Durel is still waiting on commitments from two candidates.
He now expects the board to be ready by Tuesday...
questions still surround HUD and who operates the Lafayette Housing Authority.
The fast answer is... HUD controls the housing authority, but they've recently been using a more "hands-off" management style.
"It's a situation that I'm glad somebody's on top of it." Broussard Mayor Charles Langlinais says, "I had this very same problem."
Langlinais used to watch over Broussard's housing authority board.
He says the scandals became too much for the city, so the Parish took over.
"The way HUD's got it set up, it is literally ripe for manipulation," Langlinais said.
"There seems to be a layer of management missing," says Lafayette Parish President Joey Durel.
Durel is in the process of overhauling the entire board of commissioners... but the US Department of Housing and Urban Development funds the housing authority- leaving many wondering, who has control?
"The people with the big stick aren't here," Durel says.
HUD funds the authority from Washington. Then, a local board manages those funds but the board isn't chosen by HUD. They're actually picked by Durel- who has no association with the federal department.
However, he says he'd like see HUD take on a more hands-on approach to managment.
"They feel they've got some local oversight with the local board." Durel says, "but there's obvious issues here."
The mismanagement doesn't just happen at the Lafayette Housing Authority. Use a search engine to find news with the phrase "housing authority."
It's not only in Lafayette- it's happening in Philadelphia, Massachusetts and North Carolina... Just to name a few.
"This is happening here, all over the state, all over the country," Langlinais confirmed.
KATC made a number of calls to HUD officials looking for answers... but our calls were not returned.
Other questions are being raised over Executive Director Walter Guillory and his salary:
In 2008, Guillory signed a five-year contract worth $131-thousand a year.
Just months later, the previous board voided Guillory's contract and issued a new one-- worth more than $186-thousand a year----a $55-thousand raise.
Parish President Joey Durel had the same questions but board members say their decision was justified because he was being offered more money elsewhere.
"(Walter) had been offered a position somewhere else." The only remaining board member, Donald Fuselier says, "he was doing a great job at the time and started taking on other cities."
Those other cities included Broussard, Vermilion Parish and Opelousas. The job offer came from Louisiana Senator, Mary Landrieu.
"We saw the compensation to be reasonable at the time," Fuselier said.
"Hind-sight is always 20-20," Durel said. "It was a difficult decision at the time and (the board) thought they were making the best decision for Lafayette."
Guillory's contract expires in November of 2014.