Despite the efforts of numerous business owners and residents who publicly praised the job Tom Gilmour has done as Director of Commerce for the last 10 years the Asbury Park, the City Council voted 4 to 1 to introduce an ordinance eliminating the $85,000 position.
Public hearing on the ordinance is November 12.
Council plans to create a new position of Director of Communications at an entry level salary of $55,000.
Councilmember Jesse Kendle abstained from the vote, with no explanation given.
Gilmour’s last day on the job is October 30.
Councilmember Joe Woerner discussed the reasoning behind the vote citing the savings of $30,000 in salary but also saying the new position would better serve the needs of the city.
“It will be less restrained, a more wholistic approach…more open. The focus will not just be on business,” he said.
But many in the audience believed that Gilmour was more than capable of performing the duties of communications director along with his current duties.
One by one they came to the microphone praising Gilmour and asking the council to delay the vote at least until the new City Manager, Michael Capabianco, who was introduced Wednesday night, begins his tenure November 9.
Neptune resident and Rotary Club member Michael Fornino said he has been in business in the area for 52 years and witnessed the good times and the bad times in the city.
He urged councilmembers to be leaders.
“You should be leaders, tell employees what you want. You are punishing success,” he said.
Fornino also asked council if the city wasn’t better off now than it was 15 years ago.
“There’s no common sense, give him the job (communications director), he’ll do it,” Fornino said.
Fornino also asked for an explanation of why this was happening now.
“Point out what he was asked to do that he didn’t do?” he said to applause from the audience.
Brett Morgan, one of the owners of several city businesses including Bands on a Budget, said Chamber of Commerce Director Jackie Pappas and Tom Gilmour have helped him with several business endeavors in the city.
“Tom has been very available. Why not put the brakes on and let the new city manager get acclimated,” he said.
Richard Buckley, owner of Buckley’s Funeral Home for 66 years, said, “I can’t believe Tom can end his career like this, he’s too valuable, please keep him on.”
Several Asbury Park Rotary Club members also spoke on his behalf including Traudy Grande of Grande Financial Services in Oakhurst who said, “I have seen Asbury Park come back to life.”
Grande also noted that Gilmour sold his house and moved to Asbury Park to be close to his job.
“You’re making a mistake to let him go,” she said.
Patricia Gilmour, Tom’s wife, also spoke briefly.
After giving her name and address she said coolly, “Transparency – I voted for you.” She then quietly walked away.
Gilmour also spoke after hearing accolades from so many, coming to the microphone and giving a long list of events happening now or in the coming weeks describing the harvest fest in Kennedy Park, the last bonfire of the season, the farmer’s market, and the high school football game.
The only reference he made to his situation was that the film currently playing at the Showroom is “All Things Must Pass.”
Gilmour also cited the 100,000 visitors to the beach this year and the effort it has taken to make Asbury Park one of the top 10 beaches in New Jersey for the past several years.
He also mentioned two new restaurants in town and ended by saying, “I hope it continues, I urge you to come to the city and support our businesses,” after which he got a standing ovation from the standing room only crowd.