$18,000 Library Computer ‘Fine’ Overturned on Appeal

Computers in the new Cape Charles Memorial Library are the most-used feature. (Wave photo)

Computers in the new Cape Charles Memorial Library are the most-used feature. (Wave photo)

Cape Charles Wave

August 15, 2013

A demand by a state authority that the Town of Cape Charles return an $18,000 grant has been overturned by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The controversy surrounded the purchase by the Town of 20 computers with federal block grant money. Following an anonymous complaint to a HUD fraud hotline claiming that the computers were not available to the public, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development conducted an investigation.

As a result of the investigation, the Virginia DHCD required the Town to return the grant money. Town Manager Heather Arcos appealed the decision April 25, declaring that “An erroneous statement made by an unidentified person does not change the facts. Obviously, the library is not open yet and the computer lab is not open in its normal fulltime schedule right now, so therefore would appear to be unoccupied.”

The DHCD then made another unscheduled site visit May 1, finding the computer lab still not accessible to the public. The DHCD reiterated its demand that the Town return the grant money.


Instead, in a May 28 letter from Vice Mayor Chris Bannon, the Town appealed the decision to HUD. “The facts cited [by DHCD] are all false,” Bannon wrote, complaining further that DHCD “has refused to disclose the identity of the witness cited.”

The appeal to HUD was successful, and a July 30 letter from the HUD Field Office in Richmond states: “This matter was reviewed with responsible staff of the DHCD. This initiation of our review resulted in several discussions with staff at the DHCD regarding corrective actions necessary to resolve the Hotline complaint. Accordingly, based on the corrective actions taken by Cape Charles as reported to this office by the DHCD, the matter is considered closed.”

Town Council was first made aware of the computer issue October 13, 2011, during public comments to Council. According to the official minutes, Marita Patterson raised the issue of computers at the Cape Charles Christian School, noting that the computers were bought by the Town with grant money. “Since the computers were supposed to be for the community, when would they be available for the public?” she asked.



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