HRA talks questions, full-time director

Published 9:40 am Friday, September 21, 2012

The Austin Housing and Redevelopment Authority board has set its interviews for the final three executive director candidates.

The commissioners pared down a list of questions and cut redundancies at a regularly-scheduled meeting Thursday afternoon, leaving a lengthy list of mostly open-ended, short-answer questions. Commissioners Roger Boughton and Shirley Schlieve did not attend the meeting.

“You want to get as much information as you can,” said Commissioner Marilyn Prenosil.

Email newsletter signup

Each commissioner took one category of questions to ask during the interview, and John Garry, the executive director of the Development Corporation of Austin, will sit in to ask about redevelopment. Though the commissioners have allowed Garry and current director Jim Hurm to sit in during the interview, only the board may score the candidates and choose a final director.

The largest discussion took place around the matter of one of the final questions, which will ask candidates whether they would still be interested in the position if it were to become part-time. The director position was advertised in job postings as full-time, and Prenosil said that could turn away some candidates.

“Let’s say someone definitely wanted full-time,” she said. “Maybe they’ll get the idea that we’re thinking of reducing it down to part-time, and they wouldn’t be interested anymore.”

Commissioner Chair Marv Repinski agreed, and urged the board to keep to its current course of anticipating a full-time director.

“I would like to have us stay with that vote, unless there is some extreme circumstance,” he said.

The board kept the question on the resume, however, to gauge each candidate’s response to a part-time position. Board members were unsure whether the position required enough work to fill 40 hours per week, and decided it could be reduced in the future according to the board’s needs.

Following the upcoming interviews with the three board finalists, the HRA may choose one of those candidates to hire, or may decide to interview other candidates at a later date. The board must make a decision by early December.

Other business

During the meeting, the HRA board also:

—reviewed its report card from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Because of the lag time in preparing the report, it detailed the HRA’s performance through September 2011. HUD gave the HRA a “high performer” designation, with a total score of 93 out of 100.

“It’s not too often we don’t get the high-performer designation,” said Sherri Detloff, HRA accountant.

—heard a request from Garry to get more involved in Vision 2020 projects that relate to the HRA’s goals, especially the project to make downtown Austin a destination point.

“As they move forward, they really are going to need some boost,” Gary said. He said the HRA, the Port Authority and the city could each play a large part in the effort.