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City official’s misstep costs taxpayers $182K

Dr. Faulcon.jpg.jpg

Landis Faulcon

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Rocky Mount's community and business development director dropped the ball on federal funding for a housing project last year, leaving city taxpayers to foot a $182,000 bill.

Landis Faulcon didn't follow up with necessary paperwork needed to secure federal funding for the construction of eight housing units known as MS Haywood Court.

When the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development pulled funding, the city ended up having to pay for construction of two of the units, according to minutes of the Oct. 8 Committee of the Whole workshop in which the entire council met to discuss city business.

Faulcon has a history of hiccups with HUD. In 2002, Faulcon was executive director of a program to rebuild impoverished communities in Norfolk, Va.

The city didn't maintain adequate control over its HUD funds and didn't accurately report its activities to HUD, according to an audit report from HUD's Office of Inspector General.

Rocky Mount entered into an agreement with the Southeastern North Carolina Community Development Corp. in June 2017 to commit $182,453.65 in HOME Investment Partnership Funds to

subsidizing the construction of MS Haywood Court. Plans called for eight housing units for low to moderate income families with disabilities, according to minutes approved Oct. 22 by council.

Faulcon told the council the city had agreed to commit HOME Investment Partnership Funds for two of the units.

Faulcon failed to secure the HOME Investment Partnership Funds to support the construction of the project because she didn't submit the required request for the release of HOME funding as required by HUD.

Faulcon told council her staff had been unable to identify another source of funding and the project was already underway.

The housing units were expected to be completed this month.

During the October meeting, Faulcon faced stiff questions from the council about how they let such a huge slip occur.

Mayor David Combs asked Faulcon whether a process was in place to ensure the city doesn't find itself in a similar situation down the line.

Faulcon said a checklist should be used.

Councilwoman Chris Miller said the checklist should include an associated timeline.

Miller questioned from where the funds would come from since they weren't budgeted.

City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney - who hired Faulcon - recommended the money be taken from the general fund to support completion of the project.

Small-Toney consolidated community and business development into one department in November 2017 and hired Faulcon in January 2018 to run the show.

Within five months of Faulcon taking charge, all five employees in the department had left with one of them recieving a $40,000 discrimination claim settlement.

Six years ago, Small-Toney resigned as city manager in Savannah, Ga., due to allegations of fiduciary mismanagement spurred on by the discovery she had paid Faulcon $200,000 as a consultant without the knowledge of the Savannah City Council.

In the October meeting, Small-Toney said the lost $182,453.65 grant should be replaced with money from the general fund, which at $14 million could handle the costs.

The council eventually approved the appropriation. Councilman Richard Joyner made a motion, seconded by Councilman Andre Knight, and unanimously carried to authorize moving forward with funding for the MS Haywood Court project.

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