Annapolis youth club denied $40,000 payment

Housing authority might not honor informal deal

Regional

December 22, 2003|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

Annapolis' Boys and Girls Club had expected to get $40,000 from the city's housing authority for providing programs to nearly 300 children this year -- but might not get it because the club didn't have a contract with the authority.

In the past, the club and several other businesses had handshake deals with the authority, a federal agency that oversees the city's nearly 1,100 public housing units. But the new authority board and director, who took their positions during the summer, say they cannot honor the informal agreements.

At a recent meeting, the board declined to honor its $40,000 oral agreement with the Boys and Girls Club, and some board members threatened not to pay the club regardless of services rendered. "I cannot use taxpayer dollars to pay someone without a contract," said Clyde Caldwell, the authority's acting director.

Caldwell and club officials are expected to begin negotiating a settlement soon, but board members said they were leery about paying $40,000 because many community members have complained about the club.

At the housing authority board meeting, several residents said that their children were forced to pay for field trips and that the club wasn't hiring enough people from the area. "I've been hearing complaints for years," said Alderwoman Cynthia Abney Carter, who represents the area.

"Why should we pay that much if we're not happy with the services?" asked Howard Pinskey, a board member.

Boys and Girls Club officials are concerned because the club has a $100,000 budget and cannot survive without the housing authority's payment. The club has not had a contract with the authority for almost 18 months, even though it has been providing services the entire time, said its executive director, Reginald Broddie.

"It's a major problem," he said. "We can't operate without their money." Broddie said he was unsure what the club could do to recoup money from the housing authority.

Broddie said he had not heard complaints but that he was aware of contention between the club and the authority.

Broddie said that he and other club members had several meetings with the previous housing authority director, Pat Croslan, to discuss the club.

"We had some really good talks about what we needed in the club to be successful," Broddie said.

Broddie also said the club has hired local residents in the past, but that no Annapolis residents are employed there now. "We just don't hire off the street. They have to go through background checks and be qualified," he said.

But Broddie said he was concerned that the club did not have a formal contract and began negotiating with Croslan. "I was encouraged that we would get a contract and move forward," Broddie said.

Caldwell said he is in the process of negotiating agreements with businesses that provide bus service and consulting work for the authority without a formal contract. "This is more than a headache," he said. "It pulls you away from what you're supposed to be doing."

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