By PETE WALTON
Bradley Beach Borough Clerk Kelly Barrett is the new business administrator for the borough
Barrett was hired by a 3-2 vote at this week’s Borough Council meeting. Voting in favor of the appointment were Mayor Gary Engelstad as well as council members Norman Goldfarb and Dr. Harold Cotler. The two newest council members, Randy Bonnell and John Weber, opposed the move.
In addition to the clerk’s salary of $95,240, Barrett will be paid $24,600 for her work as administrator, for a total of $119,840.
If the borough decided to hire a separate business administrator, that person would be paid $96,300, making the combined cost for the separate positions $191,540.
“This dual role is the appropriate one for a town our size,” the mayor said. “The days of a full-time borough administrator should be over. Opportunities for consolidation of positions need to be pursued when, as in this case, the individual is qualified to handle both.”
According to Cotler, the council met with four other candidates for the position. While Bonnell said the other applicants provided “very stiff competition,” Cotler said he was inclined to reject all the other resumes because he said those candidates made no effort to learn anything about Bradley Beach prior to interviewing for the job.
As the meeting began, Bonnell objected to the inclusion of the appointment on the council’s consent agenda, which he said usually includes only routine matters. Bonnell said there had been “no public deliberation” on the hiring.
“The whole nature of this position is being changed,” the councilman said. “It’s being made into a part-time position.”
Borough Attorney Michael DuPont said consideration of the appointment was in order and that the public would have a chance to comment before the vote.
Monmouth County Freeholder Thomas Arnone of neighboring Neptune City was the first to speak when the meeting was opened to the public.
“Having an outsider come in to a small municipality can be a serious problem,” Arnone said. “There’s a lot to be said for on-the-job training. I put that ahead of any education. It will be a disaster if Kelly is not appointed.”
Anthony J. Muscillo, who served as interim borough administrator after the retirement of Joyce Wilkins last fall through May 23, said he recommended Barrett for the job.
Tim Gallagher, who serves as borough clerk and administrator in neighboring Avon, also attended the meeting to support Barrett.
“She’s an excellent choice,” he said. “She lives and breathes Bradley Beach.”
Though most of those in attendance appeared to support the appointment of Barrett as administrator, some expressed concerns about how the decision was reached.
“My issue is with the process,” said resident Don Greenberg. “With one person getting two full-time jobs, neither job will get the full attention it deserves.”
“It really isn’t fair to the people who applied for the job as a full-time job and now, all of a sudden, it becomes a part-time job,” said Thomas Coan, who also cited the academic background of the other candidates.
“All we have to do is just be an employee for a really long time and we get a job that we’re not educated for,” Coan said, prompting boos and catcalls from many in the audience.
Councilman Weber said the applicants and the council were “misled” because the post was advertised as a full-time poosition that has now become part-time. He also questioned Barrett’s qualifications.
“If another town got these same five applicants and they got the same resumes, would they be hiring the same person?” Weber asked. “I think the answer is no, so if it’s not good enough for another town, I’m wondering why it’s good enough for Bradley Beach.”
Despite voting against Barrett, Bonnell said he would work with her going forward.
“I’m going to work to make her the best business [administrator] she can possibly be for any town,” Bonnell said.