By PETE WALTON
Bradley Beach Mayor Larry Fox wants to hire Council President Meredith DeMarco as the next borough administrator.
Fox is scheduled to propose the appointment in a resolution scheduled for consideration at the Wed., Sept. 13 meeting of the Borough Council.
Greg Fehrenbach has been serving as interim borough administrator since the resignation of Kim Humphrey in February.
So far, the mayor has not been able to obtain the consent of enough council members to approve a candidate for the administrator’s post, as well as several other positions.
According to the resolution, approximately 30 people applied for the position after it was advertised.
“Finalists were transmitted to all members of the governing body for review,” according to the resolution. “The borough’s governing body screened and engaged in formal interviews of chosen candidates.”
“The mayor has advised the members of the Borough Council that he nominates Meredith DeMarco to serve as the permanent business administrator for the Borough of Bradley Beach, who meets the qualifications of the position,” the resolution reads.
DeMarco currently works as deputy municipal clerk in the Mercer County township of East Windsor.
According to a schedule attached to the resolution, DeMarco would be paid an annual salary of $110,000 to start.
She was the only one of four council candidates endorsed by Fox to win a seat in the 2022 general election.
“Shortly after the position opened, Ms. DeMarco asked to be considered for the job,” Mayor Fox told The Coaster. “She has been working in municipal government and taking courses that would enhance her knowledge in this area. I never asked her to apply and give up her council seat. This was a decision she made. She was a finalist and was ultimately the best choice in my opinion.”
The mayor said that interim administrator Fehrenbach “is a professional recruiter in the area of municipal government and assisted in the process.”
“He concurred that Ms. DeMarco is the best choice,” Fox said.
Councilwoman Jane DeNoble said she believes there are “so many issues” with the proposed appointment.
“First is the ethics of a newly elected, sitting councilwoman applying for the position,” DeNoble said. “Second is Councilwoman DeMarco’s lack of any experience as a business administrator and the lack of foundational educational degrees and certificates.”
DeNoble said the council interviewed three of Fox’s recommended candidates and advised him that one was “a highly qualified candidate with a master’s degree in public administration and decades of experience.”
“Instead, Mayor Fox is now single handedly proposing the appointment of Councilwoman DeMarco, a far less qualified candidate and is also proposing a top line salary for us residents to pay,” DeNoble said.
Fox sued the four members of the council in May, saying a majority of the council tried to usurp powers granted to him by state law. The mayor asked the court to invalidate the appointments of four professionals made by the council after Fox failed to nominate candidates acceptable to a majority of the council members.
State Superior Court Judge Richard W. English suspended the council’s appointments until the matter could be heard in court. Last month, the judge affirmed that under Bradley Beach’s form of government, the mayor has the right to make appointments with the advice and consent of the council.
Councilman Al Gubitosi said the judge’s opinion “overwhelmingly supported the council’s rights to create and modify law.”
“The council has the right to say no to the mayor’s nominations, even though the mayor has publicly stated that the council’s advice and consent should really be a ‘rubber stamp’ of his recommendations,” Gubitosi said.
On June 14, the council approved a vote of no confidence in Fox for failing to propose a candidate for borough administrator who could receive the support of a majority of the council. The vote was 3-0, with DeMarco and Fox abstaining.
Also on the agenda for the Sept. 13 meeting is a resolution appointing Nancy Britton of Tinton Falls as the borough’s chief financial officer.