Council Mulls Over DPW Superintendent Appointment

Council Mulls Over DPW Superintendent Appointmentthumbnail
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Published: February 5, 2015 @ 1:00 PM EDT

At the last Mayor & Council meeting in January, the governing body tabled two resolutions (45-14 and 54-14) that would, in combination, hire Mark Pasquali as the Department of Public Works (DPW) Superintendent for $85,000 instead of Rich Graves. This is $5,000 more than is currently being paid to Neglia Engineering, the borough’s engineering firm, that was temporarily appointed  in December of 2012 to the position as a contractor which did not require the municipality to pay for any insurance, pension, or benefits. The person that Neglia Engineering is currently using as their representative for DPW Superintendent is Mark Pasquali. It should be noted that Neglia Engineering was originally contracted as DPW Superintendent in December of 2012 for $40,000 (Resolution 267-12) and this amount was increased to $80,000 three months later in March of 2013 due to the workload being doubled from 20 hours to 40 hours a week (Resolution 86-13).

Add to that the fact that it had been stated publicly that Neglia Engineering was hired temporarily until DPW employee Rich Graves, who was appointed Assistant Superintendent in 2012 (Resolution 260-12), completed required training and received the certification needed to take over that position. Mr. Graves, in his only comment for this article, stated that he has passed the test and received the necessary certification to become DPW Superintendent.

The matter was originally set to be voted on at the January 15 Mayor & Council meeting but was taken off the agenda and discussed in closed session. Whether or not  Mr. Graves was provided a ‘Rice notice’ or ‘Rice letter’ is not known. Pursuant to Rice v. Union Cty. Reg. High School Bd. of Ed., when discussion involves a personnel matter that may adversely affect the individual’s employment – in this case the non-promotion of Mr. Graves –  the employee must be provided with adequate notice that his personnel file will be discussed in closed session at a particular meeting. A Rice notice also provides that an employee has the right to waive the privacy of a closed session in order to have the discussion aired in public. Another point that was not made public was when, or whether, Mr. Pasquali submitted his resignation to Neglia Engineering in order to be hired by the municipality.

After the January 15th closed session, Fifth Ward Councilman Michael Yakubov publicly asked whether questions regarding the contract could be discussed. In addressing Richard Huxford, the Borough Attorney, he stated, “I want to point out all the questions I had so it’s out there in the public.”

He was notified by Mr Huxford that under negotiations, nothing regarding contract negotiations cannot be discussed publicly until the matter is closed.

So now the governing body is in the position of deciding whether to hire the person they were using as a contractor for two years without benefits, and hire him as an individual while adding over $5,000 to taxpayers’ burden (once benefits and an annual 2% raise are included), and not appoint the person they publicly stated they were anticipating to hire for DPW Superintendent now that Mr. Graves has completed the required training.

Due to the matter being discussed in closed session, no information has publicly been provided as to the reason why Mr. Graves was not the person appointed to the position of DPW Superintendent or whether  there will be any compensation for courses and related expenses taken in expectation of a promotion.

The matter of appointing a DPW Superintendent is scheduled to be voted on and discussed at tonight’s Mayor & Council meeting at 7 p.m. in Borough Hall.