Saratoga Springs Housing Authority board to release payroll records requested by city

Thursday, April 18, 2013
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— The Saratoga Springs Housing Authority board of commissioners agreed Thursday to provide the City Council with the payroll records the council has been requesting for the last year.

City officials say that state municipal housing law requires the Housing Authority to provide the City Council with payroll records each year so they can be approved by the council.

City Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan sent a letter to each member of the authority’s board of commissioners earlier this month again seeking information “regarding all employee compensation, including contracts, salary, salary increases, and any other forms of compensation from May 16, 2000, through 2011 for the purpose of retroactive approvals.”

She also asked for the current fiscal year’s compensation and for the upcoming 2013-14 fiscal year’s planned compensation and contract information.

The authority has provided some salary and compensation information to the council but not as much as was sought in a May 2012 request.

Eric Weller, chairman of the board of commissioners, said at Thursday’s board meeting at the Stonequist Apartments that the authority would provide the City Council with all available information on compensation issues.

He said, however, records going back beyond 2006 may be hard to retrieve because of a change in bookkeeping procedures and computer systems.

“That’s very encouraging,” said Madigan when informed of the decision made at the meeting.

She said state public housing law is specific about the local governmental body — in this case the City Council — approving salaries and all compensation for a housing authority each year. The Saratoga Springs Housing Authority stopped this practice, for some reason, in 2000.

She said she understands some of the earlier compensation information may be difficult to retrieve.

The board passed a motion that its personnel committee meet and recommend compensation for the 2013-14 budget year for the board’s May meeting and whatever is approved at that meeting be forwarded to the City Council prior to June for its consideration.

Weller abstained from voting on this motion. He said after the meeting that it is his opinion that federal Housing and Urban Development law “trumps” state law and that the board of commissioners — not the City Council — has the full power to fix compensation for Housing Authority employees.

The Saratoga Springs Housing Authority administers 339 units of public housing at the Stonequist Apartments on South Federal Street and apartments in the Jefferson and Vanderbilt terraces area.

Lou Schneider, who was recently appointed to the board to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Charla Commins, said he hoped for “a good relationship all around” between the authority board and the City Council.

“The needs of the residents [of the public housing units] come first,” he said.

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