Saratoga County

Firm to hunt for Saratoga Springs deputy housing director

The Saratoga Springs Housing Authority will contract with a consultant to find a deputy executive di

The Saratoga Springs Housing Authority will contract with a consultant to find a deputy executive director, who if all goes well would get a promotion when Executive Director Edward Spychalski retires.

The authority’s board of commissioners on Thursday voted unanimously to pay Leo Dauwer, a Needham, Mass.-based public housing authority consultant, $5,400 to do a nationwide search for a deputy executive director and conduct interviews.

Commissioners said the fee for Dauwer, a retired school superintendent, seemed like a bargain. A recruiter would charge 30 percent of the first year of the successful candidate’s salary, Commissioner Albert Collucci noted.

He estimated the authority would pay a deputy executive director between $70,000 and $90,000 a year. If that person gets promoted to executive director, a pay increase presumably would follow.

Officially, the board hasn’t set a salary range for the new person, something authority Commissioner Ken Ivins said the full board should do, not just the personnel committee.

Some authority commissioners and members of the City Council have criticized Spychalski’s $144,000 salary, saying he is overpaid. The City Council on Tuesday passed a resolution disapproving Spychalski’s salary for the next fiscal year, a nonbinding decision designed to send a message to the authority.

“Everyone already knows that the salary is too high,” Ivins said. “Most of the board has felt that we can’t get out of the contract.”

Hiring a new deputy executive director will allow the board to negotiate a new salary figure if members wish and set a contract length different from Spychalski’s five-year rolling contract.

“It gives us a lot of chances to do a lot of things,” Ivins said of the negotiation process. Ivins, however, may not be part of that process. If elected county supervisor in November, he plans to step down from the authority board to avoid any potential conflict of interest.

Authority board Chairman Eric Weller said he would prefer a three-year contract for a new person, which he said is the industry standard.

Although the timeline could change and depends on Dauwer’s schedule, Weller said he hopes to have the position advertised by next month, receive applications and winnow candidates through the fall, and start conducting interviews in January.

He hopes to have a new person working by next May or June, which would give at least six months’ overlap if Spychalski decides to retire at the end of 2014 or the first half of 2015, as Spychalski announced last month is his intention.

On Thursday, the authority also voted 6-1 to pass the $2.3 million 2013-14 preliminary budget, which the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development now will need to approve. The board didn’t discuss the City Council resolution during the meeting, but Weller said afterward that the authority’s funding and official budget approval comes from HUD, not the city.

“We have to do what we have to do,” he said. The city mayor does appoint five of the authority’s seven commissioners, and the other two are public housing residents whom other residents elect to the board.

Ivins cast the sole vote against the budget, saying he did so because of the salary issue.

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