The Saratoga Springs City Council on Tuesday voted down a resolution asking the mayor to replace the five appointed members of the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority’s board of commissioners.
City Accounts Commissioner John Franck had proposed that the City Council urge Mayor Scott Johnson to immediately remove the appointed commission members for “inefficiency, neglect of duty, or misconduct,” citing state Public Housing Law.
Franck has long been critical of the local Housing Authority for not immediately addressing a bedbug problem at the 176-unit Stonequist Apartments in 2011, for paying what he feels is an excessive salary to authority Executive Director Edward Spychalski, and for not providing the City Council with staff salary information it has repeatedly requested over the past year.
Franck said the authority’s board of commissioners has not presented the authority salaries for council approval each year as required by state Public Housing Law and has not given the state Comptroller’s Office a corrective action plan related to a critical audit released by the state in November within the required 90 days.
Johnson was not present at the meeting because he had a “required but unexpected medical procedure” Tuesday, according to city officials. City Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan conducted the meeting in the mayor’s absence.
Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen opposed the measure. “I think this is way premature,” he said. He called the resolution — basically accusing all five, unpaid appointed members of the housing authority board of possible inefficiency and neglect of duty — “very broad.”
“The rights of those people need to be protected,” he said.
Madigan supported Franck’s resolution, saying the removal of the commission’s five appointed members, including chairman Eric Weller, is “something that absolutely needs to be done.”
The authority commission also includes two members elected to the board by residents of the city’s public housing units, and these members cannot be removed by the mayor.
City Public Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco said the mayor should be present to discuss the issue with the rest of the council. He agreed with Mathiesen that the resolution seemed premature and possibly unfair to the appointed commission members.
The council voted 2-2 on the resolution, which means the measure failed.
Also Tuesday, the city was informed by the Saratoga Springs City Center Authority that it would again allow city voting districts 3, 4, 8, 9 and 25 to use the City Center on Broadway as a polling place rather than the Lincoln Bathhouse on South Broadway.
The five districts had voted at the City Center until a major renovation and expansion of the center several years ago caused the polling location to be moved.
The council will hold one more hearing on the change March 19 before taking action.