Saratoga County

Saratoga Springs Housing Authority board doesn’t extend director’s deal

The Saratoga Springs Housing Authority board voted Thursday not to allow executive director Edward S

The Saratoga Springs Housing Authority board voted Thursday not to allow executive director Edward Spychalski’s contract to automatically extend to a fifth year.

The authority’s board of commissioners also agreed to review Spychalski’s salary, which went from $74,777 in 2006 to $151,956 this year.

“I have no problem with that,” Spychalski said after the commissioners’ meeting. He said he will cooperate fully with the pay review.

City officials and some city residents have criticized Spychalski’s compensation, especially the generous raises he has been given since 2006. His pay became an issue after a bedbug infestation problem in some units of the federally-subsidized Stonequist Apartments on South Federal Street surfaced last December.

Some Stonequist residents complained that authority employees were not doing enough to deal with the bedbugs. Last month, the authority finally hired a professional exterminator to inspect all 176 units at Stonequist and treat those units found infested. The building is currently free of bedbugs, according to authority officials.

“We made a decision not to extend it that extra year,” said Dennis Brunelle, board chairman. Spychalski will still have four years left on his contract when the new fiscal year starts in July.

City Mayor Scott Johnson sent a letter to the authority this week recommending that the board not allow Spychalski’s rolling contract to automatically extend. Johnson also recommended that the commissioners look at Spychalski’s annual compensation, which has been criticized in recent months as being excessive.

“We want to cooperate with the mayor. We are doing our best to work with the city,” Brunelle said after the commissioners’ meeting at the Stonequist Apartments.

“We wanted to renegotiate the contract anyway,” Brunelle said. He said the commission will have a “comparability study” done, comparing Spychalski’s pay with that of other housing authority directors and similar positions in the public and private sectors.

But the study will not be started until the state Comptroller’s Office finishes a performance audit of the authority started several weeks ago at the request of the city, Brunelle said.

Brunelle said Spychalski’s actual salary is $144,000, but it increased in 2011-12 to $151,956 because of a $5,000 bonus the commission awarded him for work on a new affordable housing project on Allen Drive.

“This has nothing to do with his performance. We are very, very satisfied with his performance,” Brunelle said about the comparability study.

Brunelle said that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has performed 16 audits of the local authority’s books since Spychalski has been director. He said these audits have given the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority scores in the “high 90s.”

He said the commission has also had five independent audits done on the authority’s books, with no negative findings.

The Saratoga Springs Housing Authority maintains and administers federally subsidized housing in the city, including the 176-unit Stonequist Apartments and another 163 units in the Jefferson-Vanderbilt terraces area.

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