MARGATE – The Board of Commissioners Thursday, Feb. 1 moved to fill several vacancies created by the resignation of former Administrator Ken Mosca. The positions are required by state law but require no compensation.

Mayor Michael Collins said previously that Margate government works best with an administrator to guide operations, but that the commission would take as long as it needs to find the right person to do the job. In the meantime, activities normally covered by the administrator are being assigned to other employees on a temporary basis.

Although several appointments were approved as part of the non-controversial consent agenda, Commissioner Maury Blumberg objected to a resolution appointing City Clerk Johanna Casey as Executive Director of Personnel, which was voted on as a separate agenda item.

Collins said the Executive Director of Personnel position is merely a title change from the existing position of Personnel Officer, which was filled by administrators in error for years.

Blumberg said he believes the clerk does not possess the qualifications necessary for the position and appointing someone to a position that does not currently exist would “circumvent the law and open us up to legal challenges in the future.”

He asked for the resolution to be pulled from the agenda until the commissioners could discuss it in detail, “both technically and from a legal standpoint.”

Under Civil Service, the classified position of Personnel Officer requires seven years of supervisory experience, or a bachelor’s degree, is “very time consuming and complex,” and the Revenue and Finance Department, which Blumberg oversees, is not prepared to take on the additional responsibility.

Civil Service Personnel Officer job description…

Under direction, is responsible for the human resources functions of an agency or agencies within a jurisdiction. Maintains liaison between the agency and the State Department of Personnel in matters of personnel administration; manages the operation of a personnel work unit and directs one or more personnel functions such as, employee and labor relations, personnel policy development, classification and compensation, and related employment activities; does other related duties.

The city’s Personnel Consultant Cindy Cotton recommended the title of the position be changed to a non-classified position under Civil Service, Solicitor John Scott Abbott said.

“We have been using the title of Personnel Officer in error for many years because we have been assigning those duties to a non-Civil Service position – that would be our administrators Richard Deany and Ken Mosca – and both of them were erroneously assigned the title for many years,” Collins said.

“You can’t just change the name. The description of the job in the handbook, this person cannot do,” Blumberg said, noting that the position is not currently included in the city’s Employee Policy and Procedures Handbook.

“If you want to make it a non-Civil Service appointment as many municipalities do, typically it is (assigned to) the City Clerk,” Abbott said.

Disagreement ensued about the supervisory hierarchy of the City Clerk’s Office. Blumberg said he believes the position of City Clerk comes under his department – Department of Revenue and Finance – and he was surprised to learn of the proposed appointment when he read the agenda on Wednesday.

However, Collins said although the clerk and all personnel officers are paid out of Revenue and Finance Department, they report to all three commissioners and do not fall within a given department.

Collins said he believed that Abbott or Casey had discussed the matter with Blumberg before the agenda was published on Tuesday.

The flap could be a result of a lack of communication between the commissioners. Under the Open Public Meetings Act, the commissioners may only discuss business at a public meeting or in executive session, and since there are only three commissioners, discussing business between two of them would constitute a quorum and violate the act.

In the past, the administrator acted as the intermediary to facilitate discussion between commissioners.

Although Collins spoke with Cotton and Abbott about the title change issue, Blumberg said he did not have the opportunity to speak with Cotton.

Commissioner Kathy Horn, who presided over the meeting in person because Collins was out of town for business and attended remotely, said she was aware that Collins had spoken to Cotton and asked him to elaborate on his discussions with her.

“I still believe this appointment should be pulled until we can further vet it,” Blumberg said.

The consent agenda passed unanimously. Blumberg voted against Casey’s appointment.

“All of these appointments were made so that if an administrator is hired in 30 days, they would go back to the administrator,” Collins said Friday morning. “Logically, the clerk is the only one in the city government that makes sense for this position because she works across all departments.”

If there is a complaint from an employee, they would go to the personnel officer who would file a report to the appropriate commissioner to resolve the issue.

“It’s not a position of power or authority, it’s really just someone who can facilitate a resolution for employees,” Collins said.

The board authorized without objection the following appointments formerly held by administrators Mosca and Deaney as part of the consent agenda:

  • Public agency compliance officer – Roger McLarnon
  • Authorized Representative to the NJ Office of Emergency Management – Dan Adams, who previously served as alternate representative
  • Alternate Representative to the NJ Office of Emergency Management – Pat Power
  • Joint Insurance Fund Transitional Duty Coordinator – Dan Adams
  • Transitional Duty Designee – Pat Power

The board also approved a contract for Hatfield-Schwartz Law Group, LLC of Cedar Knolls to perform employment law services at a rate of $220 per hour not to exceed $20,000 for the year. The company will provide, review, and provide recommendations on employment law related to sick time and vacation leave.

The board also approved a settlement and release agreement with Mosca, who resigned Jan. 18. Details of the settlement were not provided at the meeting.

Collins said assigning duties is a temporary situation that will be resolved when an administrator is hired.

“We didn’t want to delay these appointments because we want to be compliant with state rules,” he said. “Everything will remain very fluid…until we hire a new administrator.”

Collins said hiring a new administrator is an intentionally slow process, and that the candidate hired will need to be well versed in personnel and human resources.


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Categories: Margate

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.