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Thursday, June 21

This is not the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority's website

However, that site, located at is supposed to be up imminently, according to the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority Board of Commissioners — in particular their go-to computer guy Kenneth Ivins, who owns (is) Ivins Computer Consulting.

Ivins says he is working on the site, which has been down for months (I heard on the down-low a while back that the site was hacked, though I never saw any proof one way or another). He said it should be up in the next week, possibly by Monday or Tuesday, and that it will have a lot more information on it than the previous site hosted.

That was one of a few loose ends I wanted to report on for the SSHA.

Another is the salary issue. I was berated during the public comment period at Thursday's meeting. First, one resident asked a general question about newspapers, but referred to my Wednesday article about new HUD guidelines. "Why do they have to keep crucifying him in the paper?" she asked.

Spychalski's wife also addressed me, saying "I expect you can print an accurate salary," after pointing out that her husband did not receive "a god damn penny" for his work at the Saratoga Affordable Housing Group.

Anyway, I figured I'd take the time to address what some see as a misrepresentation of Ed Spychalski's salary.

I (and every other paper reporting on the SSHA) write that Spychalski made $152,000 in 2011.

In fact, according to members of the SSSHA Board of Commissioners, his base salary was roughly $145,000 ($144,921 as reported today at the SSHA meeting) in 2011.

However, he took home $151,956 in fiscal year 2011, according to Civil Service records.

The difference of those two numbers still evades me. I was told initially by then-chairman of the SSHA board Dennis Brunelle the difference was due to a $5,000 bonus he was paid for his work with the Saratoga Affordable Housing Group (which some have said is improper to begin with), but adding those doesn't make $152,000.

I was also told it represents salary plus his compensation for mileage, but the numbers I've seen for mileage don't add up either.

Now I'm told that the bonus was spread over two years, that mileage is involved, but only some of it, and somehow his health plan may also be involved in compensation.

Anyway, I've not gone with the $145,000 number because it seemed misleading, since he took home $44 shy of $152,000 in compensation in 2011.

I reported it in mid-March, but I did so briefly and vaguely, again because Brunelle told me the difference between Spychalski's $144k-and-some-change base salary was the $5,000 bonus and that math doesn't add to $151,956.

In the end, I trust the numbers I can check. According to an operating budget for the fiscal year ending in June 2012, Spychalski's salary rate is listed as $151,956, so that is where I am going to stay for that year.

However, I will note that the $144k number is supposedly in the 2013 budget (starting July 1). They told me it is $144,921, but I've heard one closer to $144k than $145k, so I'll need to check the budget when the website is up.

Stay classy Saratoga (particularly in the comments).

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Blogger Lucian said...

I'm going to paraphrase a couple rather unseemly comments I received on this story.
One said "Keep on these people who are robbing Saratoga blind" and then went on to express displeasure over the site not having been restored.
The other was simple, though unseemly. It said Spychalski should be fired.

June 22, 2012 at 4:48 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As we understand it, Chairman Weller has said in recent days that the Authority may resist HUD's new salary guidelines. Not long ago he was quoted in the following TU story saying that the SSHA was not subject to City or State law, but only followed HUD rules and regs. So is he now saying that the Authority will violate HUD regulations.

And where is the mayor's office on all this. The SSHA comes under the mayor according to State Law and the City Charter. Silence as always. Anyway, here is teh TU story.

TIMES UNION on February 9, 2012:

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A member of the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority told city leaders Tuesday that it was not subject to local and state regulations, and revealed it paid a public relations firm $175-an-hour to deal with the media after a bedbugs problem spread to other questions about its administration.

Eric Weller, a member of the housing authority Board of Directors, spoke to the City Council by live video in response to an invitation from Accounts Commissioner John Franck. Weller defended the housing authority’s job just minutes after some residents called for the resignation of its five board members and Director Ed Spychalski.

Weller disputed Franck’s opinion that the authority operated under state public housing law, and, therefore, was required to report salary increases to the City Council. The authority ceased reporting pay changes to the council 12 years ago. Spychalski, who has been under fire for not removing bedbugs from Stonequist Apartments, earns $151,956 — more than the state’s lieutenant governor — and got raises between 2006 and 2011 that more than doubled his salary.

Weller told the council that the authority answers to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“It’s HUD that audits us every year, HUD that sets the rules and HUD to which we must answer,” Weller said. Housing authority lawyers were looking into who has oversight over the agency, Weller said. He added that HUD was unwilling to confirm its position.

Franck disputed Weller’s assessment. He said the housing authority was founded as a municipal agency under state law. That’s why the city’s Civil Service Commission oversees the housing authority, he said. “If we find out state law has been broken with the salary increases, then I think we need to reduce salaries to what they were,” Franck said.

June 22, 2012 at 6:31 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, Lucian, a couple of things (at least!) don't make sense. Mrs. S. passionately states her husband did not take "a.....penny" for his work with the affordable housing group but the former chair says Ed got a $5,000 bonus for that work. Have I got that right? And why is he getting paid mileage when he was given a car? Actually he maybe not only was given a truck but apparently he (or maybe a member of his family?) had use also of that Jeep with the mysterious EZ Pass that if I recall was Ed's personal pass put on an Authority car. Any way you add it up Ed is more than generously compensated.

June 22, 2012 at 9:37 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On a different but related topic. I understand Callucci and Ivins, the Mayor's appointees, voted to add $7,000 to the SSHA travel/training item in the budget bringing the total up from $15,000 to $22,000. This seems like a lot but I'm wondering what other agencies of this size spend on this. Any idea?

June 22, 2012 at 9:56 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed is not being paid for mileage. He pays for personal miles utilized by a SSHA vehicle at a cetsin rate per mile.That is taxable and has to be reported. Seminars are very important and has led to several agencies developing ways to generate additional revnue. That has become necessary to survive as HUD has severely cut Budgets across the country. If the budgets dry up where are these people going to live. People look at the negatives but never take the time nor are available to all the facts.SSHA contibutes money to the City each year as well. No one ever states that. It is probably the worst run agency at the Federal level and has become severely critized for their lack of follow up etc. Check out the salaries of the other non-profits in the City like the Racing Museum, Saratoga Bridges SPAC etc. and than compare what SSHA does to them. Ignorance and a "Hang him High" attitude previlas. The angry ignorant mob speaks again. Why aren't you complaining about taking over the EMS service with the main goal being to justify the existence of a paid Fire Dept. and additional FF's. Tunnel vision and ignorance runs amill in Saratoga Springs. Look at the wasted dollars daily in DPW and DPS and than sit back abd be critical.You are paying dealy for these serives and the Cadillac Retirement plans that accompny these positions and the unions that are flush with cash. These are your dollars and plenty of them. The SSHA cost the SS taxpayers pennies to finance and they provide a place to live for over 300 people and a very low rate of rent which is reducing daily. When will the ignorant and arrogant look at the total picture and not one man or one entity. When you look at them all you'll find no difference and possibly more disgraceful. If you only knew and saw the total picture maybe you would shed your criticism around.

June 23, 2012 at 6:16 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As for the media maybe they should look at all the no show jobs in State Government that robs the taxpayer blind every day. Senators wih personal cars and even drivers. The TU is a disgrace. They will never shallenge the State but always will challenge the little guy. The Saratogain is no better. Do you walk around our fair city with blinders. Buildings going up and being remodeled and on every weekend Broadway Looks like and trash can and an ash tray with no cleanup from Friday night to Monday morning. Tree limbing hitting people in the face as they wak by. A $9 million plus dollar budget and the main street of the city is left untouched. Maybe the street people have joined the Captains, Lieutenants and Chiefs at the Police station who go to the beach on weekends while a Sargeant runs the City. Shame Shame but they are the first to get OT. Where is the anger and criticisim there? You will probably find a foreman making OT on some Saturdays but who cares if we pay someone $28 an hour to water flowers instaed of a PT weekend person.

June 23, 2012 at 6:24 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many hourly people out in Togaland get paid for their luchbreak. Very few but in DPW it is a common practice. Not a peep.

June 23, 2012 at 6:27 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you should ask Mr. Ivins or Mr. Callucci what their rationale is rather than look or have the newspaper do your work for you.A comparison state nothing. What the exposure is and the long term gain not expense are critical points. They might help educate you!!!

June 23, 2012 at 6:45 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like the entire board are now embarrassing themselves. Nothing will happen as you can see from the comments by the board members. They keep holding on to it’s our business only attitude. I didn’t realize Mr. Ed’s wife was so involved at the meetings as well. What a situation. Mr. Ed really does need to go, but maybe all the boards members so go as well.

June 23, 2012 at 9:47 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It doesn't seem fair that the SSHA has frozen all salaries there just because of the controversy over Ed's excessive pay. There are employees there who haven't gotten those kinds of raises from the Board over the years and now they have to suffer because the Board showered Ed and a few other others (Gerard Hawthorn and Cindy have also done quite well for instance) with taxpayer dollars. Why doesn't that Board have the integrity to look carefully at how they've treated all the employees over the years and consider whether a blanket policy is appropriate. They all, including the Mayor's 2 appointments who voted for this budget which keeps Ed's salary at $150whatever, just went along without one person, including the nun, questioning whether this was a fair and just policy to apply to all the employees.

June 23, 2012 at 10:59 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Spychalski is not worth his salary as administrator of the SSHA. He is far too shortsighted to be an effective administrator. Cheap materials and sloppy initial indoor construction decay quickly. Out of code building projects are often never completed for years unless HUD demonstrates spine and demands correction. The least expensive and least energy efficient appliances replace old or broken appliances of all types. Terrace residents who earn lower incomes pay utilities and are more reliant upon HEAP funding to warm cold, drafty buildings. That represents additional long term waste of government funds. No recycling in Saratoga's municipal housing is unacceptable. I am very sorry the board approved raises for Ed as well as inflated SSHA travel expenses to HUD seminars. Fifty thousand dollars a year deleted from reckless budgeting would be a good start to improving the basic energy efficiency and internal
improvements of the Terrace housing for which Mr Spychalski has responsibility.

June 28, 2012 at 1:08 AM 

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