Reports question Wilmington Housing Authority travel policies

Reported by Claire Simms - bio|email
Posted by Lauren Thomson - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The Wilmington Housing Authority is defending one of its board members after reports suggested she was spending too much money on agency trips.

Trips to Washington, D.C., Oregon, and Chicago are raising questions about the Housing Authority's travel policy.

Commissioner Alfredia McDonald has taken 9 trips since 2007, spending over $18,000.

That's almost twice as many trips and twice as much money as any other commissioner during that time period.

"Last year, during 2009, we did have one person that did most of the travel for us, which was Commissioner McDonald, but that was under the approval of the entire board," says Deb Hays, the Interim Commissioner Chair.

Hays says even though McDonald is going on more trips than other commissioners, they're all benefiting.

Most of the trips are for educational purposes and any time a commissioner attends a conference or seminar, they put together a presentation for the entire board.

"As you can see, it's cost effective. So, instead of sending nine commissioners, we send one person to get the information and bring it back," says Hays.

Hays says the Housing Authority Board is always working to reduce their travel costs.

In 2009, the entire group spent a total of about $7,000 on travel -- a huge decrease from 2007 and 2008 when travel totals were over $20,000 a year.

"The bottom line here is the Housing Authority has done an incredible job of reducing its travel expenditures, especially during the past 18 months to 2 years," says Hays.

The Authority maintains that whether it's one commissioner or all 9, they're doing what's best for the Wilmington housing community.

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