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Woonsocket Public Housing Chief Robert T. Kulik reaches severance agreement with Woonsocket Housing Authority

August 22, 2014

WOONSOCKET - Robert T. Kulik, the executive director of the Woonsocket Housing Authority, and the agency's board of commissioners, reached a severance agreement Thursday.
The deal ends Kulik's employment with the WHA, effective Monday, but it allows him to collect his pay until the end of the year and includes his work vehicle as part of the package, according to Joseph Rodio, the WHA's legal counsel.
The salary amounts to $38,819.34, doled out in weekly installments of 2,156.63 starting Sept. 4.
Kulik, who earned $112,000 a year, had been under contract to work for the WHA until May 2015.
"Bob had been out of work for some time for health-related reasons and he indicated to us that he wasn't coming back any time soon," said Rodio.
Kulik and the board negotiated an agreement that allowed him to retire early with certain incentives, said Rodio. In addition to salary through the end of the year, Kulik received a 2008 Ford Edge SUV with about 50,000 miles on it that he had used on the job.
Rodio said the vehicle was technically the property of the federal division of Housing and Urban Development. The WHA checked with the agency to make sure conveying the vehicle to Kulik was permissible.
HUD said it was, so long as it was not a gift, but a taxable asset reported to the Internal Revenue Service.
"He'll have to pay taxes on it," said Rodio.
Kulik, 65, had been executive director of the WHA since March 2006, but in recent months his relationship with workers has shown signs of strain.
Kulik had been on sick leave since June 19, the day after union workers took a vote of no confidence against him, officials say.
That was the second time in about six months that Kulik has been at the center of a controversy involving his management practices. He was placed on unpaid leave by the board in December 2013 amid allegations of bullying workers and making offensive remarks to female employees. The board ordered him to undergo sensitivity training before allowing him to return to work on probationary status in January.
David Lahousse, chairman of the WHA’s Board of Directors, said that despite his recent troubles, Kulik had an impressive record of accomplishments.
He was instrumental in gaining millions in funding from HUD to convert a portion of St Germain Manor in the first-ever assisted living wing in a public housing complex in 2013, an initiative which won national recognition.
"Bob has been an asset to the agency," said Lahousse, "He accomplished a lot of great things."
Lahousse notified some 45 employees of the housing authority by e-mail Friday that Kulik has retired early.
Very shortly, said Lahousse, the WHA would embark on a search for someone to replace Kulik.
In the meantime, Deputy Director Duncan Speel is in charge of running the WHA, the third-largest public housing agency in the state, with some 1,300 units of rent-subsidized housing for low-income families, senior citizens and the disabled.
Kulik, who couldn't be reached for comment, has a long history with the city, as an employee of government agencies and an elected official.
He had served as personnel director at City Hall for three years and before that, as human services director from 1995 to 1998. He had also been employed previously by the housing authority as a manager from 1985 to 1995.
He was an elected member of the Woonsocket School Committee from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s.
Follow Russ Olivo on Twitter @russolivo

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