31 March 2017

New Player On Mesa City Council Team Steps Up To The Plate Hitting A Homer Outta The Ball Park

That's outta the usual boring tired-old business-as-usual-nobody-cares game of Good-Ole'-Boyz-PoliTricks  usually played out inside City Hall. No curve balls from the pitcher's mound slide across home plate this time around when homeboy-hero Ryan Winkle has gotten warmed-up in the bullpen and  knows the game how to use social media to connect with the public.
That's Amy Poehler from popular TV show Parks & Recreation giving a wink and a knowing nod @ left
You, dear readers, might be puzzled by this post so what's it all about when most people who live in Mesa simply don't care - or bother to get informed about local government - most times sitting on the sidelines if they get that close.
Your MesaZona blogger is so thrilled and so excited to say that local politics is not a spectator sport . . . let's qualify that by stating that the action is on social media: here and here

And all ya gotta do is lift a finger to see more on Facebook
Concerned? Curious?

1. Ryan Winkle on Facebook March 27, 2017[almost 50 replies and comments]
We have recently heard a proposal to privatize the Mesa jail operations. Please read (really read) and watch the following links and let me know your thoughts. Please keep in mind;
1. People Concerns
2. City Budget Issues
3. Jail vs. Prison (transport, booking and length of stay)
4. Unforeseen Consequences of being the first AZ Municipality to do this.
You can send your thoughts, addressed to all the Mayor and Council at council@mesaaz.gov
Please no knee jerk reactions, at minimum please review this.
Mesa Police Presentation on privatization for jail:

2. Ryan Winkle on Facebook March 30, 2017 [over 100 replies and comments]
Long post warning. Some clarifications needed.
1. There are some councilmembers that want to use the allocation approved by voters and by council numerous times on other projects. Only one of which is a new council member.
2. If there is a change of mind regarding the use of this voter and council approved money, it should go through an open & public process.

Is The City of Mesa Making The Mark In WhatWorksCities? Apply + Get Certified

18 months ago Mesa City Manager Chris Brady, shown grinning in the image to the left, signed the city’s Open Data Management Policy in October 2015 in an article by the Sunlight Foundation
The story [excerpts and links provided farther along in this post] received a whopping 17 views and no likes, shares, tweets linked-in or otherwise.
The published - and little-noticed story - stated that When What Works Cities partners Sunlight and the Center for Government Excellence began work with Mesa — the first city to officially sign on to the $42 million dollar Bloomberg Philanthropies program — city leaders had a clear vision for advancing open data in their community. . .  Is the City of Mesa now ready to get certified that it's clear that they are headed down a path that will establish them as a leader in open data for mid-sized cities.
“I strongly believe that data and evidence are the fuel that will continue to power the positive momentum we’ve created as we work to grow Mesa into an even better place to live work and raise a family,” said Mayor John Giles in the city’s press release at that time featured in the image to the right, and as usual starts off with that we-are-excited thing: “We are excited that Mesa is a leader in open data for Arizona.”  One might ask how's it going, Mister Mayor?
How does Mesa measure up now?
By rewarding achievements and providing a clear path to excellence, What Works Cities Certification supports local leaders in leveraging what works to deliver unprecedented results for their residents.We encourage all cities to take the first step in the direction of understanding where they stand and what their next steps are to making, even more, progress for their communities. Please take a minute to let us know you’re interested in joining us by submitting your Statement of Interest by May 1.
When a city applies for What Works Cities Certification, its practices and policies are assessed across a number of criteria aligned with the What Works Cities Standard.
For each criterion assessed, a local government earns points that reflect the presence and caliber of each policy or practice. A team from Results for America, along with its assembled experts, will conduct the assessments in on-site visits. Only local governments that are certified will be announced publicly.
Based on the total number of points earned, a local government can achieve one of three Certification tiers:
Local governments are good at understanding data, tracking process, and using data and evidence to make decisions.
Local governments work across at least two components of the What Works Cities Standard
Local governments are great at understanding data, tracking progress, and using data and evidence to inform decisions.
Local governments work across at least three components of the What Works Cities Standard
Local governments set the precedent in understanding data, tracking progress, and using data and evidence to inform decisions.
Local governments work across all components of the What Works Cities Standard
The city’s Open Data Management Policy, signed by City Manager Chris Brady last October 2 years ago, affirms Mesa’s commitment to joining the open data movement. Meeting the majority of Sunlight’s open data policy guidelines - it firmly establishes processes for the collection and release of quality data, It takes major steps to ensure that data release is timely and is prioritized based on city priorities and public feedback.
It also mandates an annual open data report and review process — an activity that will be fundamental in the effort to achieve the policy’s ultimate goals.
A mayor, whether working in a big city or a small one, sees needs every day that would benefit from the investment of public resources. With such opportunities essentially unlimited but resources quite constrained, how should a leader respond?
A comprehensive answer to this question was recently presented when Bloomberg Philanthropies' What Works Cities initiative lanched a certification program that provides much-needed clarity by identifying and endorsing clear, expert-tested indicators of the capacity to use data effectively.


What Works Cities Certification is currently open to all U.S. cities with a population of 30,000 or more. Certified cities will be announced annually, and any cities that do not initially qualify can reapply every other year. Cities earning Certification must reapply at a minimum every three years to maintain Certification status.
If your city is interested in beginning your journey to becoming What Works Cities Certified, we invite you to get started. Please contact certification@whatworkscities.org with any questions.
The What Works Cities Standard
What Works Cities leaders make powerful, public commitments  to achieving better results for  their residents by using data and evidence when making budget  and policy decisions;
What Works Cities leaders collect and use data and tools to measure progress and engage residents  along the way;
What Works Cities leaders consistently review and reflect on the data and evidence they have to learn  and make improvements; and
What Works Cities leaders use  data and evidence to inform  major decisions and take action  to improve outcomes.

Mesa embraces open data with new portal and policy
Friday, March 4, 2016 11:40
Link: click or hover on this link


Are Parks Play-Grounds For Politics? ...or GREEN SPACES for ReCreation?

Your MesaZona blogger always wondered from the get-go why the newsroom for the City of Mesa registers its internet website as a non-profit organization using the domain suffix .org usually reserved for NPs.
Is it registered and licensed as a Non-Profit by the State of Arizona in official public records with all of its staff working inside City Hall as city employees earning salaries paid for with taxpayer dollars?
Do they do their job keeping residents informed in a fair-and-balanced way? ...or do they fall short of the mark?

What Works Here In Mesa??? Does Mayor John Giles Have The Grit & The Vision?

Ideas Welcome:
Philosophies and Priorities of the Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers of 2017
by / April/May 2017
Government Technology’s Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers honors people inside and outside of government with a grand vision and the grit to execute on it. These are the people who aren’t afraid to bring a new, transformative idea to the table, and often times, that spirit is contagious.

Top 25 honorees also tend to foster that way of thinking in their teams.
Here are a few hints at their philosophies and priorities that have landed them on our list for 2017.

(Click on the infographic to view a full-size version of the image.)

An Inspiring Look at What’s Right in Government
BIG ideas, bold thinking and skillful execution on the potential of truly digital government.
Many commonalities run through this year’s honorees.
They think big.
They seize opportunity.
They collaborate.

Nobody has a monopoly on good ideas.

This 2017 Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers
serves up a fresh set of stories that are filled with them. 

30 March 2017

From The U.S. Census Bureau: On The Move: American Migration 01 July 2015-01 July 2016

Per usual practice, your MesaZona blogger tuned-into a sound-bite a couple of days ago to hear that where we live - Maricopa County - is the fastest growing county in the entire country. . . Are happy days and boom times here again? Let's leave that question and a few more questions on the table for now to see what is the source of that data.
It's the U.S. Census Bureau. Not surprising, right? What is surprising especially to a source sleuth like yours truly, the data was released was released in a Press Kit. Yes!    The infographic visualization of the entire country, including Alaska and Hawaii, is inserted on the left showing the net domestic migration by county for anywhere you might like to look for any reasons you might have. Keep in mind the color-coding: each color represents anywhere from 5,000 to a few in increases in the blue-green spectrum while the yellow-to-red are negative numbers. You can easily see to where people are migrating - no reasons are given since that's normally not a question in census reports. Keep in mind also these figures are estimated.
Need a Sound bite?

Sound Bites

Attribute to: Ben Bolender, Population Division
Maricopa County Leads Numeric Population Growth For Counties
Available on YouTube:
"So this year, so between 2015 and 2016, Maricopa County was the fastest growing county in the nation by numeric change. They beat out Harris County which had been the fastest growing county by numeric change for several years. Maricopa County is growing primarily from domestic migration or people moving to and from other parts of the United States. Over the last year, they added about 81,000 people. That works out to a net of about 222 people per day."
Press Kit: County and Metro Area Population Estimates
March 23, 2017
You can find it right here >> US Census Bureau Press Kit
How cool is that?
Maricopa County Added Over 222 People Per Day in 2016, More Than Any Other County
Release Number: CB17-44
MARCH 23, 2017 — Maricopa County, Ariz., replaced Harris County, Texas, as the county with the nation's highest annual population growth, according to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates released today. Harris County was the largest numeric gainer for eight years in a row.
Maricopa County gained 81,360 people between July 1, 2015 and July 1, 2016, or about 222 people per day, while the nation's second-largest population gainer, Harris County, gained 56,587 people, or about 155 people per day on average.
Maricopa County, home to Phoenix, primarily grew through the addition of 43,189 residents from net domestic migration, a measure of how many people move to or from an area versus other parts of the United States.
The county also added 25,428 people from natural increase (more births than deaths) and 10,188 people from net international migration.
Harris County, Texas, home to Houston, saw changes in net domestic migration, going from a net gain of more than 17,000 to a net loss of more than 16,000. Despite this, Harris County had the second largest gain in population due to high natural increase (46,412) and net international migration (27,922).
"In the early 2000s, Maricopa County was in the top one or two counties by numeric growth. From 2009-2011, Maricopa County saw much lower net migration than in the years before or after, which caused the county to drop out of the top population-gaining counties," explained Peter Borsella, a demographer in the Census Bureau's population division.
"While net international migration has not reached prior levels, net domestic migration and natural increase have continued to rise, making Maricopa County this year's largest numeric gainer."
In addition, Maricopa grew the fastest among the top 10 largest counties at 1.95 percent, an increase from 1.90 percent from the previous year. Harris County remained the third-largest county with 4.6 million people, and Maricopa County remained the fourth-largest county with 4.2 million people. Los Angeles County and Cook County, Ill., remained the largest and second-largest counties, respectively.
The statistics released today provide population estimates and components of change for our nation's 382 metropolitan statistical areas, 551 micropolitan statistical areas, and 3,142 counties, as well as Puerto Rico's metropolitan statistical areas, micropolitan statistical areas and municipios.
Find more highlights from this year's release below and local-level statistics on census.gov.
In the coming months, the Census Bureau will release 2016 population estimates for cities and towns, as well as national, state and county population estimates by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin.

While Maricopa County had the largest population growth neither Phoenix nor Mesa was among Top 25 Fastest-Growing Metro Areas (Percent Change): July 1, 2015 to July 1, 2016
The Census Bureau develops county, metro area and micro area population estimates by measuring population change since the most recent census. The Census Bureau uses births, deaths, administrative records and survey data to develop estimates of population. For more detail regarding the methodology, see <www.census.gov/programs-surveys/popest/technical-documentation/methodology.html>.
The Office of Management and Budget's statistical area delineations (for metro and micro areas) are those issued by that agency in July 2015. Metro areas contain at least one urbanized area of 50,000 or more population, and micro areas contain at least one urban cluster of at least 10,000 (but less than 50,000) population. Both metro and micro areas consist of one or more whole counties or county equivalents. Some metro and micro area titles may be abbreviated in the text of the news release. Full titles are shown in the tables.

29 March 2017

New Project Narrative For FFEA: Falcon Field Economic Area

An overdue update on Falcon Field Economic Area was presented by Jaye O'Donnell at the Economic Development Advisory Board meeting at the regular meeting earlier this month on Tuesday, March 7, 2017 at 07:30 a.m.
Some background here:

TOMORROW: A public meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 30, to discuss the city of Mesa’s plans to develop 63.5 acres west of Greenfield Road and Falcon Field Airport between McKellips and McDowell roads as the Falcon Tech Center.
The City of Mesa owns the property, which is managed by Falcon Field Airport. In 2008, the airport requested a property zoning change to planned employment park, which was granted with stipulations. Falcon Field Airport and the city of Mesa’s Office of Economic Development would like to modify the project narrative and some of the stipulations that were included in the 2008 planning and zoning case in order to develop the property as the Falcon Tech Center.  The city is seeking input from the public regarding this proposed change.  The city will retain ownership of the property.
A public meeting is scheduled to be held 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, March 30, at the Falcon Field Airport Terminal Building, 4800 E. Falcon Drive in Mesa. The purpose of this meeting is to provide the public with further information concerning the Mesa Planning and Zoning case, answer questions and gather input from interested residents, Airport tenants and business owners.
For additional information concerning this planning and zoning case or the March 30 public meeting, contact Lori Gary, city economic development project manager, at 480-644-3964 or lori.gary@mesaaz.gov or Corinne Nystrom, Falcon Field airport director, at 480-644-2450 or corinne.nystrom@mesaaz.gov.
Source: Mesa Independent 

Falcon Tech Center -
Planning & Zoning Board Meeting Notice
City of Mesa - Falcon Field Airport Citrus Groves Property
Post Date: 03/29/2017 11:30 AM
Falcon Field Airport and the City of Mesa’s Office of Economic Development have submitted an application to amend Ordinance 4839, to modify a stipulation from zoning case Z08-022, and to modify the case narrative.
Zoning case Z08-022 re-zoned approximately 69.34 acres of property west of Greenfield Road between McKellips Road and McDowell Road for future development of the property. The rezoning case had a condition of approval that stated compliance with the basic development as described in the project narrative.
Falcon Field Airport and the City of Mesa’s Office of Economic Development would like to propose a new project narrative. Adopting this new project narrative requires a modification to zoning case Z08-022 and an amendment to Ordinance 4839. 

This application will be scheduled for consideration by the Mesa Planning and Zoning Board at the meeting scheduled to be held at 4:00 p.m., April 19, 2017 in the City Council Chambers, 57 East First Street.
The public is invited to attend this meeting and provide comment regarding this proposal.

The final decision regarding this case will occur at a City Council meeting.

This meeting will be held approximately six weeks after the Planning and Zoning Board meeting. Please contact City staff for the time and location of the City Council meeting.

For questions regarding this proposal, contact

Airport Director Corinne Nystrom at 480-644-2450/corinne.nystrom@mesaaz.gov or
Lori Gary, Economic Development Project Manager, at 480-644-3964/lori.gary@mesaaz.gov
The City of Mesa has assigned this case to Tom Ellsworth of the Mesa Planning Division.

For questions regarding the public hearing process, he may be reached at 480-644-2182/tom.ellsworth@mesaaz.gov.

Presentation of Recommended Funding for Community and Cultural Development FY17/18 Programs

Presentation to Community and Cultural Development Committee
For Meeting on The 30 March 2017
Please Note: Link to access original 18-page presentation can be found here
Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program
HOME Investment Partnership (HOME) Program
Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Program
Human Services Funding

Purpose and Recommendation
• Allocation of federal and local dollars for FY 17/18

• Recommend funding for the following programs 
Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) 
HOME Investment Partnership (HOME) 
Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) 
Human Services
Estimated HUD Allocations for FY 2017/18 (see page 3)

72 applications submitted: 

13 CDBG  $1,970,434 
15 ESG/Homeless $1,575,960 
40 Human Services $1,749,078 
4 HOME $2,603,675
Total:       $7,899,147

[Amounts after the forward slash are the recommended funding]

CDBG Applications
Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation (NEDCO) – Economic Development Program
$100,000 $100,000
> CDBG Economic Development Subtotal $100,000

CDBG COM Housing and Community Development – Demolition
$50,000 $50,000
CDBG COM Housing and Community Development – Homeowner Rehabilitation Program
$650,000 $650,000
> Housing Rehabilitation  Subtotal $700,000

CDBG Child Crisis Arizona – Campus Creation $419,000 / $300,000
CDBG COM Housing and Community Development – Downtown Fa├žade Improvement Program – Phase 2
$322,500 / $322,500
CDBG Save the Family – Conference Center $115,000 / $115,000

CDBG Marc Community Resources – Courtyard Improvements for the Disabled
$372,000 / $250,000
CDBG Paz de Cristo Community Center – Day Center & Navigation Svcs. Construction
$108,000 /  $108,000
> Public Facilities Infrastructure Subtotal $1,095,500

CDBG A New Leaf – Autumn House Domestic Violence Shelter
$67,500 / $35,000
CDBG Child Crisis Arizona – Emergency Children’s Placement Services
$75,000 / $15,000
CDBG Community Bridges – Homeless Navigation Services
$174,732 / $95,000
CDBG Community Bridges – Mobile Outreach & Crisis Stabilization Services
$65,000 / $65,000
CDBG Local First Arizona Foundation – Fuerza Local $56,814 / $25,000

CDBG Paz de Cristo – Day Center & Navigation Services $359,428 / $183,000
CDBG Save the Family – Homeless Families Intervention Case Coordination
$60,000 / $35,000
CDBG West Mesa CDC – Economic Development Program
$90,000 / $45,000
> Public Service Subtotal $498,000

ESG – Shelter A New Leaf – Homeless Shelter Services $250,000 / $172,798
ESG – Rapid Rehousing
Save the Family – Lutheran Social Services of the SW Collaborative
$200,000 / $93,600
> Subtotal $266,398

HOME City of Mesa Housing –TBRA Program $100,000 / $100,000
HOME Community Bridges – TBRA Program *$217,144 /  $210,168
HOME ArtSpace –ArtSpace Mesa Lofts $500,000 / $500,000
> Subtotal $810,168

HS/ABC House of Refuge –Adopt A House $48,400 / $48,000
HS/ABC A New Leaf – Housing Stability Support Services $50,000 / $50,000
HS/ABC Save the Family – Homeless Case Management & Supportive Services
$150,000 / $125,000
HS/ABC A New Leaf – Rapid Rehousing $72,500 / $50,000

HS/ABC Marc Community Resources – Employment Training and Placement
$56,16 /$30,000
HS/ABC A New Leaf – Emergency Shelter $250,000 / $27,000
HS/ABC Paz de Cristo Community Center – Employment Opportunity Program $26,235 / $25,000
Human Services / ABC FY 2017/18 Applications for Funding
HS/ABC Lutheran Social Services – IHelp Shelter Program for Homeless Women
$30,000 / $25,000

HS/ABC East Valley Adult Resources – Meals on Wheels $25,000 / $25,000
HS/ABC East Valley Adult Resources – Assistance for Independent Living/volunteer Services $30,000 / $25,000
HS/ABC Paz de Cristo Community Center – Showers for the Homeless
$25,960 / $25,000
HS/ABC United Food Bank – Emergency & Supplemental Food Assistance Program
$20,000 / $18,000
HS/ABC Teen Lifeline - Crisis Hotline Programs $20,000 / $18,000
HS/ABC Maggie’s Place –The Hannah House $35,000 / $18,000

HS/ABC Community Legal Services – Removing Barriers to Justice for Low-Income Mesa Residents $54,100 / $45,000
HS/ABC Oakwood Creative Care – Long-Term Support for Adult Day Health Services
$36,000 / $36,000
HS/ABC Child Crisis Arizona – Family Education $25,000 / $15,000
HS/ABC Valley of the Sun - Mesa Family YMCA – Mesa Family Diversion Class
$15,000 / $10,000
HS/ABC MesaCAN – Client Services $175,000 / $90,000
HS/ABC Boys and Girls Club of the East Valley – Healthy Lifestyles
$35,000 / $15,000
HS/ABC Early Childhood Enrichment Project – Early Education Enrichment Program
$60,000 / $60,000
> Subtotal $780,000


Committee Report for Community and Cultural Development Committee Meeting The 30 March 2017

Community and Cultural Development Committee 
Date:  March 30, 2017 
To:  The Community and Cultural Development Committee 
Natalie Lewis, Deputy City Manager + Ruth Giese, Community Service Director  
From:  Elizabeth Morales, Housing and Community Development Director   

Subject: Housing and Community Development Funding   
Council District: Citywide 
Purpose and Recommendation 
The purpose of this report is to present the Community and Cultural Development Committee with the funding recommendations for the FY2017/18 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME, Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG), and Human Services Programs.

There is also prior year funding for HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) projects that is recommended to be carried over and to be included in the 17/18 funding. 
As part of the preparation process of the City’s Annual Action Plan (AAP) for FY2017/18, staff is requesting that the Committee review, modify, and/or approve the attached recommendations, which will then be considered by full Council.  

The City of Mesa has participated in the federal CDBG Program for 40 years, the ESG Program for 28 years, and the HOME Program for 24 years. During this time, Mesa has been allocated over $100 million for a variety of activities including capital improvements, housing, economic development, public services, homeless assistance, emergency shelter, and neighborhood improvements.

This substantial investment by the federal government has benefitted many low- to moderate-income Mesa residents, while at the same time, significantly improving their quality of life. 
For planning purposes, staff is assuming a similar level of CDBG, ESG and HOME funding allocations from the federal government for these programs. 
If there is an FY17/18 elimination and/or reduction in one or more of these programs or their funding appropriations, staff will return to City Council to discuss an updated funding allocation, based on that available funding. 
For FY2017/18, Mesa utilized an application process to solicit proposals from non-profit agencies and City departments for use of its annual allotment of CDBG, ESG, and HOME funds, as well as the City’s Human Services programs.

Proposals were reviewed by City staff for project eligibility and alignment with the City Council’s Strategic Priorities and Goals, and forwarded to the Housing and Community Development Advisory Board (HCDAB) where they were reviewed and formally rated on March 2 and March 7, 2017. 
Each funding application received ratings from each Board member, which ranged from Highly Recommend to Not Recommended.
Each project could receive up to 9 votes for recommendation. 
Staff reviews the technical eligibility of the proposals and also considers the Council Strategic Priorities and Goals and the HCDAB’s scoring in order to propose draft recommendations for further Council consideration and action.
The  process is designed to ensure the federal funding is invested in high-need eligible services and is distributed to programs that offer the highest and best returns on this investment to Mesa’s low-moderate income residents, businesses and neighborhoods.  
** A copy of the rating sheets utilized by the HCDAB and staff can be found as the following attachments to this report: 
Attachment A – HCDAB Rating Tool 

Attachment B – Staff Eligibility Review Tool 
Attachment C – Director Funding Recommendations for the CDBG, HOME, ESG, and Human Services programs  
Staff has identified alternatives regarding the FY2017/18 CDBG, HOME, ESG and Human Services programs: 
1. Accept the funding recommendations outlined in Attachment C – Acceptance of the attached recommendations will provide a balanced mix of housing activities, economic development, public services, and assistance to non-profit agencies that will help improve the quality of life for Mesa residents and within Mesa neighborhoods. These recommendations are also consistent with the City of Mesa’s 5-year goals as outlined in the Mesa Consolidated Plan. 
2. Revise the funding recommendations outlined in Attachment C – The Committee could choose to revise the funding recommendations to more closely align with Council Strategic Objectives. 

Fiscal Impact 
For planning purposes, the City has anticipated FY2017/18 allocations by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for CDBG, HOME and ESG funding. The allocations are based on prior year funding; however, HUD may be reducing 17/18 funding which will likely not be known until May/June 2017.

Staff have identified possible reductions of 15%, and provided the funding cutoff at that level.
Should full prior year funding be given, it would be as follows:
See tables on pages 2 and 3 in the committee report available here

Coordinated With 
The CDBG, HOME, and ESG funding applications have been reviewed with applicants, citizens, other city departments, and the HCDAB. 
Final funding recommendations by Council will be included in the City’s Annual Agency Plan (AAP) that serves as its formal application to HUD for funding of the CDBG, HOME, and ESG programs.

The AAP will be available for review starting April 16, 2017, and the residents of Mesa are encouraged to provide feedback during the required 30day comment period that ends on May 16, 2017.
Residents can also provide feedback during a public hearing that will occur on May 4, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. Lower Level Council Chambers (57 E. 1st Street) at the regularly scheduled Housing and Community Development Advisory Board meeting.
On May 16, 2017, the AAP will go before Council, and, if approved, it will be submitted to HUD no later than June 30, 2017. 
These meetings meet the Citizen Participation requirements set by HUD for participation in these federal programs.  

City of Mesa Housing Rehab Program Audit

Source: http://mesaaz.gov/city-hall/city-auditor/audits
Report Date: February 23, 2017
Department: Community Services/Housing & Community Development Division
Subject: Housing Rehabilitation Program
Lead Auditor: Karen Newman 

OBJECTIVE This audit was conducted to determine whether adequate controls are in place to ensure compliance with Housing Rehabilitation Program requirements for eligibility, procurement, and expenditures. 
SCOPE & METHODOLOGY The audit scope included Homeowners Rehabilitation projects (under the Housing Rehabilitation Program) completed in fiscal years 2014 through 2016. To meet our objective, we interviewed staff members, reviewed Housing and Community Development policies and procedures, reviewed project documentation, and performed other tests and procedures as necessary. 
BACKGROUND  The City of Mesa’s Housing Rehabilitation Program is administered by the Housing and Community Development Division of the Community Services Department. It is funded by the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) awarded to the City by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
In FY 2016, the City was awarded a total of $3.2M in CDBG funding.
Of that amount, the City Council allocated $1.25M for housing rehabilitation activities, of which $650,000 was used specifically on the Homeowner’s Rehabilitation Program for eligible owner-occupied homes.   Each fiscal year, the City adopts an Administrative Plan for the Homeowners Rehabilitation Program. This document outlines the specific requirements for participation in the program, contractor selection and performance, and procedures for placing loans/liens on the properties.  The Plan is designed to ensure compliance with federal guidelines, while meeting the goals of the program, which include:
• Eliminate health and safety hazards in homes
• Benefit low-income, very low-income, extremely low-income, and disabled residents
• Improve neighborhoods and encourage long-term stability
• Address energy efficiency issues 
CONCLUSION  In our opinion, internal controls are in place and operating effectively to provide reasonable assurance that Homeowners Rehabilitation projects are conducted in accordance with the majority of applicable requirements. However, improved controls are needed to ensure that exceptions to program requirements are adequately approved and documented, and that project change orders are signed by the homeowner before work proceeds.
A summary of our observations and recommendations is included below.
For additional details and responses from management, please see the attached Issue and Action Plans (IAPs). 
1. Observation: Exceptions to program requirements are not always documented as required by the Administrative Plan.  The Plan allows for exceptions when warranted, but expressly states that exceptions must be documented and approved by the Rehab Committee. 
We found exceptions granted in all areas of the program (i.e. eligible participants, properties, expenses, contracting, liens); however, the project files contained no documentation for the exceptions.   
Recommendation: Exceptions to program requirements should be documented and approved by the Rehab Committee.  Additionally, the "Housing Rehabilitation Program Checklist" should include a step to ensure that the project file includes documentation for exceptions granted. 

Issue #1:  Exceptions to Program Requirements Not Documented  

Observation: Exceptions to program requirements are not always documented in the project files, as required by the Administrative Plan.  
The Administrative Plans for FY13/14 and FY14/15 state: "In cases of particular need and/or special extenuating circumstances, the Loan Review Committee may grant exceptions to any of these rules.  In case an exception is granted, a "Memo to the File" stating why the except ion was warranted will be placed in the project file." 
The Administrative Plan for FY15/16 states: "In cases of particular need and/or special extenuating circumstances, the Rehab Committee may grant exceptions to any of the guidelines and rules stated in the Housing Rehabilitation Administration Plan.  In case an exception is granted, a memo to the file stating why the exception was warranted will be placed in the project file."  

Comments: To ensure compliance with federal regulations, the Homeowners Rehabilitation Program Administrative Plan contains specific language regarding participant, property, and expense eligibility; loan/lien filings; and contracting requirements.  When exceptions are warranted, documentation regarding the reason for the exception, along with proper approval, should be included in the project file. 
When testing for compliance with program requirements, we found that the following exceptions were made, but were not documented as required:
• 4 exceptions to the requirement that a manufactured home must be built before June 15, 1976.
• 2 exceptions to the requirement that mortgage payments must be current.
• 4 exceptions to the requirement that "the Major Rehab Program will allow up to $50,000 of repairs to qualifying homes of low-income homeowners."
• 1 exception to the requirement that "Homeowners who have previously participated in the program cannot participate again as long as there are other applicants on the waiting list, and/or if the original lien has not been forgiven."
• 1 exception to the requirement that "All change orders over $1,500 (Sub-contractor’s price) will require three bids." 
• 4 exceptions to the requirement that "The contract will be for sixty (60) working days.  The contractor may request in writing, an extension for extenuating circumstances beyond the contractor's control.  The Housing Supervisor will deny or grant in writing, an extension for a sufficient amount of time to complete the performance."
• 1 lien exception on an NSP home purchase rehab.
• Lien exceptions for all Emergency Repair Program projects – a policy change was made to process these as grants instead of liens, but the Plan was not amended to reflect this change, and the exception was not documented in the project files.  
Recommendation: Housing Services should implement more effective internal controls to ensure that exceptions to program requirements are documented in the project files. 
For example, the “Housing Rehabilitation Program Checklist” should be revised to include a step to ensure all exceptions are documented as required.  

Management Response: Action Plan #1:
More effective internal controls have already been implemented as demonstrated on the updated Housing Rehabilitation Program Checklist.  which is attached. Please see attached checklist for reference. 
Individual or Position Responsible:  Housing Rehab Specialist and Supervisor 
Estimated Completion Date: January 2017  

2. Observation: Project change orders were not signed by the homeowner and/or contractor before work proceeded as required by the Administrative Plan.  Even though the homeowner is not required to pay for change orders, and Housing Services now records change order amounts as grants instead of liens, the homeowner must approve of any work to be done before the contractor proceeds. 
Recommendation: Required signatures should be obtained for all change orders before work proceeds.

Issue and Action Plan 
Issue #2:  Required Signatures Not Obtained for Change Orders  

Observation: Project change orders were not signed by the homeowner and/or contractor prior to work proceeding.  
Criteria: The Administrative Plans for FY13/14, FY14/15, & FY15/16 state: "The Homeowner must be informed of any changes to the contract or other problems encountered during the rehabilitation work, and sign the Change Order form before work proceeds." 
The Administrative Plan for FY15/16 states: "The contract or will sign the Change Order, have the homeowner sign the Change Order, and return it to the H
CD Rehab office before proceeding with any work.”  

Comments: These requirements are intended to prevent unauthorized change orders and unnecessary program expenses, which could preclude other homeowners on the waiting list from receiving necessary repairs. 
30 of 33 change orders reviewed did not have required signatures.    

Recommendation: Required signatures should be obtained for all change orders before work proceeds. Or, if appropriate, management should re-evaluate the change order process and related risks, and update the Administrative Plan to reflect current practices.      
Management Response: Action Plan #2:
The Administrative Plan was updated July 1, 2016 to state change order approval from the homeowner is required before work proceeds. 
Please see attached page 20 from the Administrative Plan with this requirement. Also attached is the Change Order form with a signature line for the homeowner’s authorization.  
The following new protocol ensures that internal controls are put in place to effectively utilize these tools.  
  • Change Orders 
  • Coordination of all Change Orders will be handled by the Housing Rehab Specialist for all projects.
  • Prior to any work being performed, all Change Orders will be submitted to the Housing Rehab Specialist.  
 The Housing Rehab Specialist will ensure:
1. The requirements for submission have been met.
2. If not already performed, a site inspection will be performed to verify the necessity of the Change Order. 
3. The proper documentation will be attached (including the site inspection verification).
4. City approval (budget & scope) must be approved by: a). the Inspector; b). the Housing Rehab Specialist; and c). Program Supervisor. 
5. After the Program Supervisor has approved, the Homeowner must also approve. 
6. After Step #5, the Housing Rehab Specialist will issue the Notice to Proceed (signed by the Housing Rehab Specialist and the Program Supervisor) on the Change Order with copies to the Homeowner. 
Notes: Step #4 
The Inspector signature verifies the necessity & the scope/budget;
the Housing Rehab Specialist signature verifies the project file, process and documentation are in place and that all steps are performed correctly;
the Program Supervisor signature provides the Ok to proceed. 
This protocol has two separate check & balances by the Housing Rehab Specialist & Program Supervisor ensuring system success. 
Individual or Position Responsible:  Housing Rehab Specialist and Supervisor 
Estimated Completion Date: November 2016   

FOR GENERAL INFORMATION about the City of Mesa's Housing Rehabilitation Program

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