July 1, 1995 in Idaho

Housing Chief Received $156,973 In Severance Pay Ex-Director Agrees To Release Of Compensation Information

Associated Press
 

A. Wayne Mittleider, former executive director for the Idaho Housing Agency, received $156,973 in salary and benefits when Gov. Phil Batt replaced him with a Republican, the agency said Friday.

Housing Agency Board Chairman Mike McMurray said Mittleider released the agency from a confidentiality agreement, allowing his severance package to be made public. Previously, the agency refused requests for the information, saying it was confidential.

“There is nothing ‘secret’ about this agreement,” Mittleider said in a news release from the agency late Friday. “Everything in the severance package is above board and in line with standard industry compensation and compensation packages.

“But … if the governor, the press or the public think we are keeping something from them, it will damage the agency and undo all of the wonderful things we’ve accomplished over the last eight years,” Mittleider said.

House Speaker Michael Simpson called for a legislative audit of the agency, after it refused to release the information.

The agency said the severance package included:

One year’s salary and benefits totaling $156,973. Mittleider was paid $108,000 but when Batt replaced him with former Republican state Sen. Rod Beck of Boise, Batt told Beck to cut the salary to $97,000.

Outplacement services.

Consulting pay, up to 90 days at the daily salary Mittleider earned when he left, at the discretion of the housing agency board.

An opportunity to purchase personal office equipment at current market value, although nothing has been purchased to date.

McMurray said the board did extensive research before deciding on the severance package, including input from employment professionals outside the agency.

“We believe this severance agreement is reasonable, given Mr. Mittleider’s accomplishments, the unique nature of the agency as a non-profit, independent public body, and the political circumstances of his termination,” he said.

The Idaho Housing Agency maintains it is not a state agency, although accountants and others say there is no question it should be defined as a state agency because state sales tax revenue is pledged to back about $80 million in Idaho Housing Agency bonds.

The law has never been used but remains on the books.

Since 1987, the agency has backed lowintererst mortgages for 35,500 homes through tax-exempt bonds.

McMurray said he was aware that “some elected officials” questioned the agency’s motives in refusing to release information about Mittleider’s severance pay, “but legally we had no choice.”

“From a legal and ethical standpoint, Mr. Mittleider was entitled to keep this information confidential,” McMurray said. “But, because of the public interest, he has agreed to release the information.”

© Copyright 1995 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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