County Housing status still mystery
Published: Thursday, June 27th, 2013
There is something amiss within the bowels of Custer County Housing and Redevelopment Commission (CCH). Just what exactly is going on, however, is anybody’s guess.
The Custer County Commission, the housing board and former housing commission executive director Connie Gorsuch have all so far been tight- lipped about the chain of events that occurred since the April 24 meeting of the commission, when new CCH chairman Leonard Wood said the financial situation at CCH was “so messed up.”
“We don’t know what we got, but it looks like there is a terrible cash-flow problem,” Wood said at the time.
Wood said the CCH board was in the process of getting an audit of the books, something that hadn’t been done since 2009. Wood added it appeared the books for CCH have not balanced since 2005.
Since that time, the vast majority of the discussion regarding CCH’s situation has been held in executive session at county commission meetings. Wood said more information will be available in the coming weeks, but did release a statement last week reiterating Gorsuch’s resignation as of June 1, and CCH board member John Preston’s resignation May 17.
Dennis Moulton is the new vice chair of CCH, while Tim Holland is new secretary/treasurer. New bylaws have been passed, and Karla Efird has been named acting executive director of CCH. The county commission voted at its June 19 meeting to contract with Holland for $4,000 a month to serve as a consultant for CCH and to provide assistance and oversight over the executive director of CCH effective June 1.
“The new directors are actively researching to determine the financial and legal status of the commission,” Wood said in the statement.
Wood said that tenants of CCH properties, which include Landover Estates and Trail View Estates, do not need to be concerned about the solvency of CCH, as it will continue to function as usual.
“No doubt, there will be changes, but these will not affect the tenants who pay their established rent and abide by the rules,” he said.
CCH is also still embroiled in a lawsuit with Rapid Construction over the Hermosa sewer line expansion.
The lawsuit, filed in Rapid City, claims that CCH and other defendants owe Rapid Construction $241,543 for pipe the company purchased for the project.
The lawsuit claims that on Nov. 17, 2005, Gorsuch named Rapid Construction as low bidder for the project, which was aimed at expanding sewer service under Hwy. 79 in Hermosa to the west. Once that infrastructure was in place, CCH wanted to pursue developing senior housing in Hermosa with the help of South Dakota Housing or through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Program. However, those entities required the needed infrastructure before they would get involved.
Beginning in November 2005, Rapid Construction, at the behest of Gorsuch, ordered the PVC pipe and other materials necessary for the project. Eventually, the project stalled and fell apart. The Town of Hermosa recently began work on the project independently.
The lawsuit states that since that time, Gorsuch has “continually represented to Rapid Construction and assured that they had an agreement with the Town of Hermosa that the pipe and materials would be utilized on the deferred project when financed, and Rapid Construction, as agreed to, would be paid in full for the pipe and materials, together with interest at the rate of two percent per month.”
No settlement has been reached on the lawsuit.
CCH was also recently faced with being asked to leave Custer City Hall, where it is housed, but the city has indicated a willingness to allow CCH more time to find a new facility.
CCH is a quasi-government agency that operates with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, South Dakota Housing Authority and other government entities.
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