New housing director’s contract finalized

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 29, 2011



LAPLACE – The St. John the Baptist Parish Housing Authority Board at a special meeting Wednesday approved for Executive Director Trina Henderson a three-year contract that will pay the agency’s new leader $72,000 a year for at least the first year.

The contract indicates board of commissioners will have the opportunity to evaluate Henderson’s performance at least once a year, which will allow them to make salary adjustments when necessary. The contract does not set specific performance benchmarks, but it does allow the board and the executive director to discuss target goals set forth in the annual agency plan, including agency improvement and progress in correcting deficiencies found in a recent audit by the state office of Housing and Urban Development.

Henderson’s salary will also depend on performance in other quantifiable terms, such as maintaining the agency’s Public Housing Assessment System and Section Eight Management Assessment Program scores at or above standard performance in accordance with HUD’s agency assessment.

Henderson’s initial salary is slightly less than the $75,000-per-year contract for former Executive Director Richard “Dale” Wolfe. Housing Authority Board President Iona Holloway said the board hopes to evaluate Henderson within the next six months to see if a raise in salary is merited.

“She has got to do the job,” Holloway said. “Since taking the helm on Oct. 12, we have all been happy with the job she has done so far. She could be eligible for an increase within the next year.”

The board terminated its contract with Wolfe in May, citing numerous contract and policy violations. Henderson’s contract allows the board to terminate for causes involving “dishonesty, moral turpitude or gross negligence in the performance of duties specified in the contract.” The contract allows the board to set a hearing regarding any such complaints filed against her. The contract can be terminated by a majority vote of the board and entitles her to receive the amount of her salary and benefits through the end of the contract if that happens.

In addition to her salary, benefits and retirement, Henderson will also be given a $500 car allowance for use of her personal vehicle to perform her duties until an agency vehicle can be purchased for use by the Executive Director.

Holloway said Henderson has been working to prioritize what needs to be done with the Housing Authority main office and added she is working on a list of suggestions to bring to the board.

“One thing we desperately need is a receptionist at the front window that can answer some of the questions brought to the office by tenants,” Holloway said. “This is a people-oriented job, and we need people who can work with the tenants when there are issues.”

Henderson said she is working on the agency’s public housing assessment plan and the agency’s 2012 budget. The fiscal year began Oct. 1.

Wednesday marked the first time in several months the Housing Board was at its full capacity of five members. Tennant commissioner Merkadel Cosey of Reserve and community representative Jo Maxent of LaPlace were present at the board table. Cosey took over for Clarence Narcisse, who resigned in May, while Maxent assumed the spot vacated by Deshanda Firmin in September.