By Ron Leir
The Kearny Municipal Utilities Authority (KMUA) has a new executive director and, as it turned out, the agency didn’t have to look very far to find someone.
By a 4-0 vote, on Sept. 17, the KMUA commissioners tapped Kevin O’Sullivan, of Neglia Engineering Associates, the town’s engineering consulting firm, as their new boss. The KMUA’s fifth commissioner, chairwoman Stephanie Santos, recused herself from voting because she is a former Neglia employee.
Mayor Alberto Santos (no relation to the chairwoman), one of the commissioners, said that of the 25 applicants for the position, the commissioners felt that O’Sullivan “stood out, both as a professional engineer and for his knowledge of the town and interpersonal management skills.”
The executive director slot has been vacant since spring 2011 when Joseph Skelly, who had the job since the KMUA was formed in 1988, retired.
According to the mayor, O’Sullivan was given a fiveyear contract at $91,000 a year, out of which about $6,000 would go for health benefits. He’ll get four weeks vacation but no overtime.
O’Sullivan, who was expected to start work Oct. 1, will oversee a $33 million budget funded, primarily, through user fees charged 58 South Kearny industries and eight meadows facilities that rely on the KMUA for waste transmission services. The KMUA’s four pumping stations send sewage to the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission plant in Newark for treatment.
Mayor Santos said he expected that O’Sullivan’s “first priority” would be to develop a capital maintenance plan for the pump facilities, particularly the biggest one which is a quarter-century old.
O’Sullivan will also likely be reviewing possible plans for a revamping of the KMUA offices on Central Avenue.
“The heating doesn’t work, the building floods and storm water gets inside,” Santos said. “There was a major pump failure there in 2001 which happened on July 4th and it wasn’t discovered until the next day.”
In other municipal personnel developments, the mayor and Town Council on Sept. 25 accepted the retirement application of Recreation Superintendent Philip Martone, effective Feb. 1, 2013, after 25 years of service. Martone is owed nearly $57,000 in accumulated unused sick leave, unused vacation and longevity.
Martone’s pending departure will leave the town’s Recreation Department with just one administrator, Ralph Catta fi, assistant to the superintendent.
“I’m going to review future staffing of that department with Councilman Michael Landy, our recreation chairperson, and the town’s Recreation Commission,” Santos said. “It’s already lean.”
Additionally, the governing body voted to accept the retirement application of senior librarian Joan B. Hart, effective Oct. 1, 2012, after 12 years of service. Hart is due to collect nearly $35,000 for unused sick and vacation days plus longevity. Santos said he’d confer with Library Director Josh Humphreys about personnel levels at the library.
“They may have to make do with their existing staff,” he said.
Also leaving the town’s employ Oct. 1 is crossing guard Karen Russo, after 28 years of safeguarding the town’s school children at school crossings.
The Police Department and the governing body have been reviewing town-wide deployment of crossing guard posts in the wake of a few recent retirements.