Baltimore will hire auditors to monitor block grant spending

July 18, 1991|By Martin C. Evans

Baltimore, which for years has been criticized by federal officials for lax oversight of city programs receiving federal block grants, yesterday agreed to hire 10 auditors to ensure that expenditures are properly monitored.

Baltimore Department of Housing and Community Development officials yesterday acknowledged that the present eight monitors are inadequate to oversee the spending of 83 groups that get block grants in the city. Block grant rules require the city to monitor the groups, which provide a range of non-profit services from low-income housing development to community block-watch programs, quarterly.

"We knew there was a need for additional monitors before HUD saw it as a problem," Harold R. Perry, deputy commissioner, said.

The Board of Estimates yesterday agreed to hire the new auditors at $28,000 per year, paid for by block grant money. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will send $24 million in block grant money to Baltimore this year.

The dispute between the city and HUD over auditing came to a head last fall, when HUD ordered the city to cut off more than $600,000 in federal money to the Council for Equal Business Opportunity when the council could not prove that it was operating within grant guidelines.

HUD, which branded the city's block grant spending as "in substantial non-compliance" with federal regulations, agreed to reverse its freeze when the city promised to watch expenditures more closely.

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