The organization has four homes on its property for the use of its employees that are nearly three times as valuable apiece as the median home in the area. The DHA also receives an unbeatable deal on a lease for its headquarters.
The organization’s headquarters is located on land in Stoneville leased from the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. The organization has a sweetheart deal on its lease, paying Mississippi State University a symbolic $1 per year in a deal that expires in 2034.
This also means the organization pays no property tax on five structures valued at $2.83 million.
According to the organization’s most recent audit, the four executive in residence houses are valued at $843,378, or about $210,844 apiece. The office building is valued at $1,993,612.
The median home value in Washington County, Mississippi is more than $76,000, according to the National Association of Realtors.
From 2009 to 2011, the DHA tried to bill the Health Resources and Services Administration for more than $11,000 in maintenance and utility costs for the homes (it referred to them as cabins in paperwork filed with the government) under its Delta Health Initiative Grant.
Its justification was that DHA employees used the cabins as temporary residence while on travel and calculated the rate based on the federal per diem for a hotel in the area, $70 per night.
In a 2015 decision, the U.S. Health and Human Services Appeal board upheld the original determination by the HRSA to disallow the spending. They said the DHA didn’t show that the per diem costs were solely for employees working solely on grant-funded work.
In fairness, there could be a need for on-campus accommodations since there are only two small hotels located in nearby Leland. Greenville, which has several large chain hotels, is about 12 miles away from DHA’s Stoneville headquarters.
The DHA administers two Promise Neighborhoods (an Obama era U.S. Department of Education program), a medical clinic, headstart programs, anti-obesity, and anti-smoking programs among others.
The organization receives grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.
Their CEO, Karen Matthews, has averaged more than $350,000 in pay, bonuses and benefits annually over the last seven years.