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Gas Heat Coming To Peekskill's Bohlman Towers

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. – The Peekskill Housing Authority must find ways to cut costs if it wants to stay afloat, and according to the executive director installing gas heat is one way to do so.

“Money is getting very tight with our deductions and our subsidies, not only the operating subsidies but the capital fund, and the high volume of unpaid rent,” Executive Director Harold Phipps told residents at Thursday’s meeting at Bohlman Towers. “It’s causing us to go into a situation in which our reserves for the fiscal year 2013 at the end of March will not be adequate for us to remain a standard performing housing authority.”

Points are deducted by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development for such financial problems, Phipps said. The total budget was not disclosed by Phipps at the meeting. The board discussed the budget further following the public forum portion of the meeting.

One way the authority plans to cut costs is by converting Bohlman Towers from oil to gas heat, which would cut about 30 percent off heating costs annually. The conversion would cost $30,000 and would be done through Consolidated Edison in the coming months, Phipps said. An energy audit was carried out by Con Edison earlier this year that showed the move would be a cost saver, according to board member Don Bennett.

Negotiations would likely be made to the union contract of maintenance department staff in order to find additional savings, Phipps added.

Some progress has been made on the financial front. Last fiscal year the Housing Authority had a shortfall of $500,000, but so far this year the authority is in the black, Phipps said.

“We saved, by cutting costs and doing various things, over $200,000 less this year than last year in the same period of time,” Phipps said.

The Housing Authority currently has eight vacant apartments, which Phipps said was due to the eviction of tenants who were not paying their rent and tenant transfers.

Residents suggested lowering radiators to save money, saying that many in some buildings were on when they weren’t needed.

In other news:

  • No decision on the contracts of Phipps or attorney William Florence were made at Thursday’s meeting. Phipps is currently working without a contract, and Florence’s five-year term expires before the end of the year. Board members said a tenant election would be held in the coming weeks as soon as an outside party such as the League of Women Voters could be found to handle the election.
  • Some residents told board members that they wanted to see more done to protect the privacy of residents. They alleged that staff members were allowing nonstaff to be in housing offices, where they could hear or see resident’s private information. Phipps denied the claim.
  • Several residents complained that work orders were going unfilled for long periods of time and that more oversight was needed from management. They asked that residents be required to sign work orders when they are completed so they know a project is finished. Board members said they would review the matter.
  • Several Bohlman Towers residents complained about a lack of hot water over the past week. Some residents also complained about mice and said the exterminators hired by the Housing Authority were not doing enough to eliminate them.

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