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HUD TO AUDIT HOUSING AUTHORITY

BROOKSVILLE

Federal housing officials will begin an initial assessment next week of problems plaguing the Brooksville Housing Authority.

In a letter to the authority's interim executive director, Ronnie McLean, earlier this week, John Niesz announced that officials from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would arrive Monday to begin their work.

Niesz, public housing director in the HUD Jacksonville office, wrote that the assessment was necessary "to arrive at a full understanding of problems that may exist at the BHA."

The Housing Authority has suffered a series of controversies, including the indictment and conviction of a former program manager and former executive director on fraud charges.

There have been maintenance issues with the authority's housing and emotionally charged meetings. City officials have worried that the authority could lose federal funds.

NEW PORT RICHEY

Pasco decides against money-saving move

It looked like an easy cut as the Pasco County Commission began dicing next year's budget to find savings.

Dropping Pasco's annual membership in the National Association of Counties would save $8,291, so commissioners decided July 17 to cut it.

"Is there any reason we have to belong to NACo?" Commission Chairwoman Ann Hildebrand asked at the time.

Here's one: Cutting the membership would kill Pasco's ability to offer a prescription drug discount card to its residents. Only association members get to offer the cards, which are free.

And popular, too. The card provides an average savings of $21 each visit, according to county and association records.

Pasco residents have saved $1.37-million since the cards were distributed in July 2006, second among 800 participating counties in America, said Andrew Goldschmidt, the association's director of marketing and membership. Florida has 19 counties offering the card, including Hernando and Citrus.

On Wednesday, Hildebrand and budget director Mike Nurrenbrock said they plan to restore the money into the proposed budget.

TAMPA

County may require access to gated areas

A Hillsborough County ordinance may soon require property managers at gated communities to supply emergency personnel with entrance access codes.

Hillsborough County sheriff's officials told county commissioners on Wednesday that deputies have been delayed as long as an hour when responding to calls because the gate codes they had were invalid.

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