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SANFORD, FL-It’s getting to look more and more like an old Bud Abbott-Lou Costello comedy scenario in this suburban, blue-collar city of 37,327 permanent residents, 30 miles north of Downtown Orlando.

Sanford is hunting for its sixth executive director in five years to head the federally-funded Sanford Housing Agency’s portfolio of 423 low-income apartments.

So far, however, the city, the agency and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have struck out in finding a replacement for Timothy Hudson who resigned April 20 amid a flurry of accusations that he fraudulently mishandled his office during his five-year reign. Hudson denied the charges. But HUD ordered the agency to repay $750,000 of unapproved expenses.

The latest prospect backed out before even signing a contract. Kenneth Armstrong, recruited by the city of Sanford from his executive director’s post at the Ormond Beach Housing Authority in nearby Ormond Beach, FL, told HUD officials he couldn’t accept their three-month contract after the city had promised a six-month package.

In a prepared statement, HUD maintains Armstrong was offered “a fair, even generous pay and severance package.” The agency says, “Considering the desperate financial climate at the Sanford Housing Authority, HUD will continue to be responsible to the taxpayers as the agency plays a primary role in the authority’s recovery.”

Armstrong was offered a $66,000 salary. He makes $42,000 at Ormond Beach and will get $46,000 in October. Evette Hester, a housing specialist from Chester, PA, previously rejected a $72,000 salary from the Sanford Housing Agency because she makes $90,000 per year in Pennsylvania.

Richard Moore, an independent Orlando property specialist, quit May 31 as interim executive director after HUD officials criticized him for hiring a pest control company to kill rats and roaches that were infesting the six apartment buildings housing an estimated 1,200 tenants. HUD told Moore he didn’t provide enough paperwork for HUD to approve the rat-roach exterminations.

Moore was being paid an estimated annualized salary of $50,000.

John Collier, a retired public housing official from Evansville, IN, replaced Moore and quickly but tactfully resigned after the first week. He had other business responsibilities in Indiana, Collier told the agency, the city of Sanford and HUD.

Hudson, a Sanford independent commercial real estate developer who resigned in April, was reportedly earning salary, bonuses and perks valued at $103,000 per year.

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