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What you need to know for 01/19/2017

Schenectady housing official moves north

Schenectady housing official moves north

The former assisted housing director for the Schenectady Housing Authority has become assistant exec

The former assisted housing director for the Schenectady Housing Authority has become assistant executive director of the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority and is in line for that authority’s top spot.

Paul Feldman was appointed provisionally to the newly created position by the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority board in December and started work Monday, said board Chairman Eric Weller. The Saratoga Springs Civil Service Commission approved the appointment Friday.

The appointment to the $89,500-a-year position puts Feldman in line to succeed Edward Spychalski, who has seen several controversies in the recent portion of his tenure as executive director. Spychalski plans to retire Dec. 31.

While the goal is to groom a successor for Spychalski, Weller said there’s no guarantee of the promotion.

“That depends on how he does,” Weller said. “He’s provisional for six months.”

Weller said the executive director’s job is much larger than the role Feldman played at the Schenectady Housing Authority, where he oversaw the federal Section 8 rent-subsidy program.

“We wanted an overlap [with Spychalski] so he would have time to learn all the local rules,” Weller said.

The Saratoga Springs Housing Authority oversees 339 rental units, including Stonequist Apartments and the Vanderbilt Terrace and Jefferson Terrace complexes. Spychalski, whose salary is nearly $145,000, had been the sole administrative employee.

Spychalski came under criticism in late 2011 when there was a bedbug problem at Stonequist Apartments. The authority’s initial response to the problem was faulted as slow and inadequate, though exterminators were eventually called in and the problem resolved.

A subsequent state audit found Spychalski’s salary to be high for the size of the Saratoga Springs authority, and there has been criticism from City Council members that the salary wasn’t submitted to the council for approval.

City Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan, in a Dec. 12 letter to Weller concerning Feldman’s then-pending appointment, said that by state law the proposed salary should have been submitted to the council for approval. Weller has consistently rejected that argument.

“We answer to [the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development],” he said Friday.

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