8News Investigative Reporter A.J. Lagoe continues to dig into how Richmond public housing spends your money.
RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) -
Home - that's what nearly 10,000 Richmonders call houses and apartments run by the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority.
RRHA claims its units provide an improved way of life for the people living there but our investigations have uncovered the agency using its massive taxpayer funded budget - nearly $72 million in 2013 - in a lot of ways that don't seem to improve the lives of residents.
From the commissioners, to CEO Adrienne Goolsby, ask questions on how RRHA spends the public's money and all you get is "no comment."
Goolsby also does not want to talk about how much she's paid. Responding to a freedom of information request, RRHA provided salary documents showing Goolsby was paid $178,500 last year - that's more than then Gov. Bob McDonnell ($175,000,) and Attorney General Ken Cuccinnelli ($150,000).
According to federal data collected in 2011, Goolsby's compensation is in the top 3 percent of public housing executives in the entire nation. In 2012, in order to protect taxpayers from excessive salaries in public housing, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) established a salary cap that dictates no public housing officials can be paid more than $155,000 a year in federal tax dollars.
But RRHA is using an accounting loophole to pay Goolsby. They claim her paychecks - which are tens of thousands above the cap - come from other "unrestricted funds." That means the rest of her salary comes from rent paid by residents in RRHA housing and local Richmond tax dollars.
Nearly $200,000 to the CEO when other employees have received little or no raise in years and numerous people who call RRHA housing home say they can't even get the authority to exterminate the bedbugs in their "improved way of life" apartments.
Our investigation is getting noticed in the highest levels of government. The office of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa says the Senator plans to ask both HUD and RRHA to explain the salary discrepancy, saying it's worrisome that RRHA is reporting one set of numbers to 8News and another to HUD. If they lie to HUD, there can be stiff financial penalties.
HUD's Inspector General currently has an investigation underway at RRHA. It was launched late last year when we first began exposing waste in the troubled agency.