Housing authority merger to be decided Wednesday

A merger of the Bremerton Housing Authority (BHA) with the Kitsap Consolidated Housing Authority (KCCHA) could save hundreds of thousands of dollars annually according to a financial analysis presented to the Bremerton City Council Tuesday.

The report is part of an on-going study by the City Council concerning the possible ramifications of merging the BHA and KCCHA. A second study session is slated for Tuesday with a final decision from the Council slated for Wednesday. Council President Daren Nygren moved up the vote from Nov. 2 because not all nine members of the council could attend that meeting.

According to the report from the Minnesota-based Springsted Inc., a merger would not necessarily have financial benefits in the short term, but in the long term, efficiencies in administrative costs and a more diverse revenue base could net a positive result. But the potential for savings would be determined by the organization’s management and is not guaranteed.

A combined organization could also:

• Provide more opportunities for allocations of projects between the city and county.

• Maintain its credit rating though greater revenue diversification and operating efficiency.

However the report states there is no significant chance that overall revenue would increase by combining the two.

The report did not address non-financial issues such as blending the agencies’ different cultures.

As for the Westpark redevelopment “The key here is that each project will have to have revenue to support its debt service,” said Barry Fick, Springsted’s senior vice president.

In recent months the BHA has been moving forward with its plans to redevelop the aging Westpark site and to find replacement housing for its residents. The BHA is in the process of purchasing two properties for replacement housing – the Erlands Point Apartments located on Austin Drive in Bremerton and the Outlook Apartments located on Cloudy Peak Lane in Silverdale.

The Erlands Point Apartments has 148 units, 37 of which will become low-income housing. The Outlook Apartments has 210 units, 53 will be used for replacement housing. The total cost for both properties is $31.7 million.

The housing authority recently finalized a contract with Huckell Weinman Associates, Inc. of Kirkland to begin the environmental studies.

BHA is scheduled to break ground on the first phase of the Westpark redevelopment effort in November. Phase one involves the relocation of 11 existing housing units, and the shift of Russell Road to make room for a 72-unit, assisted living community for seniors.

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