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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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Tuesday, July 19, 2016 by Jo Clifton
Ott announces Spencer’s retirement
City Manager Marc Ott sent a memo to City Council late Monday informing it that Betsy Spencer, the embattled director of the city’s Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department, has decided to retire.
Ott’s memo to the mayor and Council did not mention the fact that Spencer has been on administrative leave during an investigation into undisclosed matters within the department. Assistant City Manager Bert Lumbreras caused some Council consternation in early July when he sent a memo to Council members advising them that Spencer had been placed on administrative leave and that they should not engage with members of the community concerning the situation at the department.
According to Ott’s memo, Spencer’s last official day of employment with the city will be Sept. 26. “However, Betsy will be out of the office until her last day and in the interim, Letitia Brown, who currently serves as acting Assistant Director for NHCD will be responsible for overall management of the day to day activities of the department,” the memo says.
Spencer came to the department in early 2010 from San Antonio, where she served as chief operations officer for the San Antonio Alternative Housing Corporation, a nonprofit focused on housing for low- and middle-income families.
Spencer became acting director of the department in June 2010, when city management abruptly moved then-director Margaret Shaw over to Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services. Spencer became NHCD’s permanent director at the end of 2010. In the memo, Ott praised Spencer’s initiatives, including launching the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative and starting the city’s first community land trust program.
In addition, Ott said that under Spencer’s leadership, the department “finalized the Master Plan and Design Guidelines for the Colony Park Sustainable Communities Initiative to guide the development of 208 publicly owned acres owned in Northeast Austin with support and leadership of the Colony Park community.”
Spencer’s salary was $158,600. Ott promised a nationwide search to find the best person to lead the department in the future.
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Key Players & Topics In This Article
City Manager Marc Ott: Ott was hired by Council members in 2008 and served in that position until his 2016 departure.
City of Austin Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department: This city department provides housing and community development services for Austinites. To that end, they administer programs, provide grant services, and work with non-profit and agencies to provide housing for eligible residents. The department also provides small business development services.