City Accounts Commissioner John Franck wants the entire Saratoga Springs Housing Authority’s board of commissioners to be replaced, saying it has neglected its duties and possibly violated public housing laws.
Franck has been a critic of the Housing Authority since residents of Stonequist Apartments came to a City Council meeting in late 2011 complaining about bed bugs in some of the 176-apartment high-rise on South Federal Street.
The resolution calling for the “immediate removal of the appointed board members for inefficiency, neglect of duty, or misconduct in office,” citing Public Housing Law, will be discussed at tonight’s City Council meeting in City Hall.
Franck said Monday that only the mayor can appoint new members to the authority’s board of commissioners, and the mayor can also remove them. The authority board includes seven unpaid members, five of whom have been appointed by the mayor. Two of the board members must be residents of public housing in the city.
“If I had been mayor, they would have been gone last year,” he said. He added that he has no intention of running for mayor.
Mayor Scott Johnson asked the state Comptroller’s Office to do an audit of the Housing Authority early last year after controversy over the bed bugs, staff salaries and travel expenses surfaced in the media. The audit was released in November, noting concerns about the pay of authority executive director Edward Spychalski, “excessive” travel expenses by some staff and board members to out-of-state seminars and conferences, and other issues.
Franck said the board of commissioners then failed to send the state Comptroller the board’s corrective action plan within the 90 days allotted.
“He’s blowing the same old smoke,” said Eric Weller, chairman of the board of commissioners.
“Nothing he has said has been borne out by any independent evidence,” Weller said about Franck’s regular criticism of the housing authority and its board.
“The comptroller’s report just found nothing,” Weller said. He said the federally funded housing authority is rated as “a high performing agency” by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Franck said the Housing Authority board has still not presented the City Council with annual compensation of authority staff for the City Council’s approval as required by state Public Housing Law.
“Throughout this time period, it was brought to the city’s attention that the executive director of the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority received annual compensation in an amount exceeding $150,000 under a rolling, multiyear contract that was improved from $78,874 in 2006 to $151,956,” Franck says in his four-page resolution.