WNYT.com

Leaders of the Saratoga Housing Authority are addressing a tough audit, and they mostly disagree with the findings

Posted at: 11/17/2012 11:29 PM
Updated at: 11/17/2012 11:45 PM
By: Dan Bazile

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Saratoga Housing Authority Chairman of the Board Eric Weller came with supporting documents at Stonequist apartments in Saratoga Springs, ready to respond to and audit of the Authority.

Among the findings of the 19 month audit was the executive director's compensation. Ed Spychalski made nearly 145,000 dollars in between 2011 and 2012.

Weller stated Saturday, “We were accused, it was alleged that we were in violation of our own policy with respect to his setting his salary.”

Weller says they went on what's called a rolling contract to bring stability to the staff, and their policy for salary was comparability with the local high school principals.

He explains, “And if you look at what we did we raised his salary to achieve that comparability.”

However, according to the audit, executive directors in Schenectady and Troy oversee bigger housing units and have a salary in the mid 90's.

In addition, the audit found questionable travel expenses and out of state trips totaling about 12,000 dollars.

Weller explained “Travel expenses as I said there's some confusion as to what records they are looking at.”

The confusion was whether taxpayer funds were used. Weller says the authority has rental income from cell phone companies and other entities that's not part of federal money.

He added, “We don't have any discretion over how we use federal funds.”

The other issue raised in the audit was bed bugs. It says the Authority failed to handle the infestation at one of its complexes.

Weller responded, “I didn't know there was a resident entomologist on Mr. Dinapoli's advisory staff.”

Weller says the real experts at Cornell University said they handled the situation just fine.

He has 90 days to formally respond with a compliance plan. He says the Authority doesn't get any state funding and doesn't have to follow the recommendations.

“Some of it we're not I don't think. I can't say categorically we won't because we're still reviewing this.”