Housing Authority of Joliet Board plans to make interim CEO permanent
By Bob Okon email@example.com September 25, 2013 9:48PM
Updated: October 28, 2013 7:22AM
The Housing Authority of Joliet Board has offered the chief executive officer post to interim CEO Michael Simelton, who has been on the job for about 15 months.
Simelton replaced Henry Morris, who was fired in June 2012, on a temporary basis. He was offered the job permanently this month after the housing board conducted a nationwide search for candidates.
“They offered him the position, and we’re in the midst of negotiating a contract,” Eric Hanson, attorney for the housing board, said Wednesday.
He said the plan is to have a contract ready for approval at the Oct. 9 board meeting.
Simelton has been with the housing authority since 1989, when he was hired as a construction manager. He was deputy director before Morris’ dismissal.
His time as interim chief executive has been marked with some turbulence.
In November, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees the city housing authority, downgraded the agency to troubled status and required changes in policies and operations.
Many of the authority’s problems arose under Morris, including a failure to file required financial reports with HUD. Simelton has spent much of his time overseeing the changes required by HUD.
Joliet Mayor Thomas Giarrante, who appoints the authority board members and asked for their resignations after the status downgrade, said HUD representatives have complimented Simelton for bringing the authority up to HUD standards.
“He (Simelton) has always been very responsive to me when I’ve had questions, and he’s been honest,” Giarrante said. “I’ve had a great experience with Michael.”
In August, the housing authority’s chief financial officer, Charlene Potts, was charged in an alleged $200,000 embezzlement scheme involving her former work with the Chicago Housing Authority between 2005 and 2008. Potts began working at the Joliet agency in 2010 and was promoted to CFO in August 2011 under Morris.
Under Simelton, the housing authority has grappled with a sharp reduction in federal funding, which has led to layoffs.
About 20 people applied for the chief executive job, Hanson said, and the board interviewed three candidates.
Board chairman Roger Powell Sr. said Simelton’s experience with the agency is viewed as a plus.
“He’s been around a long time,” Powell said. “He’ll provide some stability.”
Morris received a salary of $141,500, and Powell said Simelton’s salary has been less as interim chief executive. He and Hanson would not say what salary has been offered to Simelton.
“We have to see what he wants, and then hopefully we’ll make a decision in the next couple of meetings,” Powell said. “The housing authority is going in the right direction.”