The Hinesville Housing Authority Board of Commissioners recently hosted an annual retreat to plan for the agency’s upcoming fiscal year. The meeting was held at Savannah Technical College’s Liberty Campus. The day included an audit summary to review the authority’s financial standing, training on meeting policies and procedures and a workshop about public relations.
Chief Executive Officer Melanie Thompson explained that there are currently four entities under the direction of the Hinesville Housing Authority: Hineshouse Property Management & Maintenance Services, Hineshouse Development, Hineshouse Homeowners Association and the Liberty County Community Housing and Development Organization.
“Technology has helped us grow with operations and accountability,” Thompson said. “I have confidence and pride in our work knowing that, financially, we are in a good place.”
She reminded the board that the Hinesville Housing Authority is governed only by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development guidelines. She said the Hinesville Housing Authority is in compliance with the rules and regulations of HUD. Her goal for the upcoming fiscal year is to continue to address the needs of the community and focus on accessible housing.
The first session was a financial audit summary for 2017-2018 by Becky McCune of Aprio. Currently, the housing authority has an operating income of approximately $287,000. The Authority has continued to increase cash reserves over the year and was able to show a small profit. McCune said that out of the 86 housing authorities her firm audits, the Hinesville Housing Authority is one of the most well managed authorities. Future goals for the financial management of the authority includes transitioning to paperless operations and increasing income through property management and landscaping services.
The majority of the workshop focused on the Georgia Municipal Association policies and procedures in reference to board governance. Jim Elliott of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government spoke about how to use rules and order to improve the facilitation of board meetings. Elliott reviewed parliamentary procedure, a fixed agenda, the Open Meetings Act, types of meetings, public comments, disparaging comments, executive sessions, recordings, quorums, meeting minutes, agendas and the media. He urged the board to be proactive instead of reactive in creating policies that make meetings easier and information accessible to the public.
The final session covered marketing and public relations. Krystal Hart of Sparrow Communications spoke with attendees about educating and advocating internally and externally. Future marketing goals for the agency include enhancing communication with residents, educating the public about the Hinesville Housing Authority and its subsidiaries and engaging the public.
“Transparency is a reality for us,” said Joe Ford, Chairman of the Hinesville Housing Authority Board. “We are going about doing our business by the book and with compassion. We need to do what’s right for our residents and staff. I’m proud to be part of HHA. I’m proud of what we do every day to make our community strong.”