OCEAN CITY – A surprise motion by Housing Authority Commissioner Patricia Jackson that the authority repay the city of Ocean City in full for monies spent to repair Sandy damage to Peck’s Beach Village did not carry by the slimmest of margins, 4-3, Tuesday night during the authority’s regular meeting.
The authority and the city have been locked in a standoff for months as the city attempts to recover the approximately $1.2 million it spent in December 2012 and early 2013 to repair 60 low-income units following devastating damage from Sandy.
The authority contends the city did not follow HUD regulations in installing hot water furnaces and HVAC systems, and that until the city agrees to indemnify the authority against future claims should the work performed be found lacking, the authority will not relinquish to the city the flood insurance and FEMA proceeds it has received.
The motion, seconded by Commissioner Portia Thompson, who added she was “sick of the whole thing,” was followed by much debate before being defeated.
Commissioner Bill Woods cast the remaining assenting vote. Voting against the motion were Chairman Ed Price and Commissioners Stephen Lalli, Marlene Sheppard and Stuart Sirott.
“I’m seeing a lot of nitpicking on one another,” Jackson said immediately before bringing the motion, referring to a 57-page report prepared by Lalli that raised questions about the procedures the city followed in completing the repairs.
Emotions ran high as some of the commissioners initially engaged in exchanging personal insults, but temperatures cooled as Executive Director Alesia Watson prevailed upon the board to allow it to continue with its scheduled 11 a.m. Friday meeting in Newark with HUD officials before bringing the issue to a vote again.
A motion to allow a city representative to accompany select members of the Housing Authority to the Friday meeting carried 4-2. At that meeting, the Housing Authority is hoping HUD will provide guidance in how it should move forward in regard to repaying the city.