Simelton gets 5-year pact as new Joliet housing chief
By Bob Okon email@example.com October 9, 2013 9:19PM
Michael Simelton was named chief executive of the Housing Authority of Joliet Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, when the board approved his contract. He had been doing the job on an interim basis. | Bob Okon~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 11, 2013 12:33PM
Michael Simelton went from interim to permanent chief executive officer at the Housing Authority of Joliet on Wednesday as the board approved a five-year contract with a $120,000 annual salary.
The authority’s board decided last month to hire Simelton, an employee at the agency since 1989, after a nationwide search that elicited about 20 applicants.
Simelton will make less than his predecessor, Henry Morris, who was paid $141,500 per year before being fired in June 2012. Simelton has been in interim CEO since and was second in charge at the housing authority before Morris’ dismissal.
Simelton’s salary reflects comparable pay for CEOs at other housing authorities that were surveyed, said Eric Hanson, attorney for the authority board.
The contract leaves any future pay increases to be determined by the board and it also does not include a vehicle allowance that Morris had.
Simelton said he was “very humbled” to get the position and by “the responsibility of the job. I know the responsibility of providing affordable housing to low-income people.”
The Joliet agency, like other housing authorities, is funded and regulated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide public housing and Section 8 vouchers to low-income residents.
Simelton has headed the Joliet authority during a turbulent period. Not only was his predecessor fired, but HUD cracked down on the agency in November for not filing financial statements, having low occupancy rates and other issues including nepotism in hiring.
Simelton has guided the agency to meet a checklist of HUD demands. But he also has had to tighten spending and oversee 10 layoffs after the federal budget sequester this year reduced federal funding for the authority.
In August, the authority was rattled wheb its chief financial officer, Charlene Potts, was charged in an alleged $200,000 embezzlement scheme while she was worked previously for the Chicago Housing Authority.
On Wednesday, the Joliet board hired the Joliet accounting firm of Wermer, Rogers, Doran & Ruzon to do a forensic audit to determine if any money was misappropriated during Potts’ time at the Housing Authority of Joliet.
Simelton was hired with only a two-year associate’s degree on his resume. His contract calls for him to get a bachelor’s degree within five years. Simelton said he also went through a two-year training program for executive directors provided by the Public Housing Authorities Directors Association
Housing board chairman Roger Powell Sr. said the board looked at Simelton’s experience and his familiarity with the Joliet agency.
“I think Michael is a proven warrior,” Powell said. “I think his 20 years of experience and ups and downs have helped him immensely. I think he has a feel for what HUD wants.”