NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The Executive Director of the New Brunswick Housing Authority (NBHA) has earned $5,687 in the first nine months of 2015, on top of his annual $155,062 salary, according to the agency’s response to a public records request.
“Any of my time for overtime is redevelopment work, which is done separately from the housing authority time, and yes I am [eligible for overtime],” Clarke explained to the agency’s Board of Directors on November 18.
The NBHA operates several public housing complexes in the city, administers the “Section 8” housing choice voucher program, and plays a key role in real estate and construction, doubling as the city’s “redevelopment agency.”
Clarke is also currently serving as the Acting Executive Director for the Franklin Township Housing Authority (FTHA), as part of an “interlocal agreement,” one of three that NBHA is engaged in.
It’s not immediately clear if he is paid additional money for his work in Franklin.
Typically, chief executives of government agencies, and often their top-level cabinet members, are exempt from accruing overtime payments above and beyond their salaries.
For example, Mitch Karon, who runs the city’s parking authority (NBPA), confirmed that he considers himself to be “exempt” from overtime.
Of the NBHA’s eighteen employees, thirteen have earned some overtime pay this year, according to the response to an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request.
But the only person who earned more overtime than the boss was Andrea Eato-White, the agency’s “Sr. Portfolio Manager.”
As we reported, Mayor James Cahill recently named Eato-White to one of five slots on the powerful New Brunswick Parking Authority (NBPA) Board of Commissioners.
In addition to her $83,640 salary, the NBHA property manager has already been paid $6,876 in overtime in the first nine months of 2015.
She is not paid to serve on the NBPA board, but wields a significant amount of power at the agency, which has only five board members and a budget twice as big as the housing authority.
Eato-White owns a home on Camner Avenue, just a few blocks away from the NBHA headquarters.
She has been with the NBHA since 1995 and is one of four employees at the authority who have their own take-home vehicle, which the agency refers to as “emergency response” vehicles.
The NBPA board appointment raised concerns over conflicts of interest because of both agencies large roles in city redevelopment projects.
Under questioning about the overtime payments, board members deferred to Clarke at first.
“Overtime is done on an as-needed basis for coverage of the office,” Clarke began. “We’re required to keep the office open.”
“If staff are here to maintain the office, along with operations, and they have to work through their lunchtime, it is considered additional time and that would go under the overtime standpoint.”
As for Eato-White’s overtime, Clarke said he “didn’t know” specifics.
“I don’t know specifically about that individual’s time directly, but I can tell you that in general, you know, overtime is assigned on an as-needed basis and we are to cover certain areas of operations.”
NBHA Board Members, including Chairman Yirgu Wolde, blamed the overtime on “budget cuts from [the US Department of Housing and Urban Development].”
NBHA Vice Chair Dale Caldwell, who also serves as an elected member of the city’s Board of Education, suggested New Brunswick Today do an article on the plight of housing authorities.
“Because you can’t have as many full-time staff, you have to do what you can with the limited staff we have,” said Caldwell. “I think that would be a great article to see what we’ve been able to do with less.”
“I think this has been an amazing–I don’t know how they do it–amazing turnaround on how you survive. And a lot of housing authorities aren’t.”
Frank Simpson, a new member of the NBHA board, stuck up for Eato-White, calling her “a very dedicated person.”
“I’m sure John [Clarke] would say that,” said Simpson. “He could probably do a raise somewhere.”
“Easy now,” Clarke responded, eliciting laughter from the board.
Three other names appeared on the documents with overtime payments above $4,000, from January through September 2015:
- Mark Roedelbronn (Director of Operations): $4,673.07
- Richard Sweeney (Director of Maintenance): $4,776.93
- Steven Davis (Project Coordinator): $4,036.42
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.