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Town Council Candidates: Right-Sizing Government


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Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan

Question 6: What is the appropriate staffing level for a town like Verona and what would you do to get us there?
Kevin Ryan: I have to begin my response by giving a little Civics lesson on how the municipal government in Verona is supposed to function. We operate under what is called a Council-Manager format. This form of government gives the manager great authority over hiring personnel and setting staffing levels. The council does fix policy and is responsible for giving broad direction to the manager. The council is limited to legislative duties and must act as a body. Those last three words “act as a body” are significant. We have a five-person council, so in our case it takes three members in most cases to agree on what policies and direction should be given to the manager. Prior to the last municipal election the majority of the council was basically content with the former manager running the town as he saw fit. There were many occasions when I asked for information on why someone was hired or if we needed to fill a vacancy and I got little or no cooperation or an inadequate response. I was often asked why did I need to know. This was basically none of his business since anything I requested should have been provided to any citizen let alone an elected official. It was needed in my opinion for me to carry out the main function of the council in reviewing and approving the municipal budget.

The council has very little hiring authority but the manager does serve at the pleasure of the council and can be removed by a majority vote. The third seat was flipped after the last election and the Manager no longer had the support or confidence that he would be able to carry out the will of the new majority and he wisely chose to resign.

When Mr. Cavallo was hired in January of 2016 he was directed to review the staffing levels and position mix in all departments including the police. He worked closely with Chief Stern and they recommended the need for increased staffing levels and the addition of a second captain position that was also called for by an independent study done by SDM Consulting in September 2016. There are also statewide guidelines that provide a ratio of patrol officers to the population of a town. We had fallen under that number which necessitated the increase in patrol officers. My position is we have to rely on our professionals and on occasion independent consultants when it comes to public safety and police staffing.

The appropriate staffing for the rest of the municipal departments have to begin with the Town Manager who has been willing to work with the council in determining staffing levels. Most of our municipal expenses are related to personnel salary and benefits. In order for the council to determine if the taxpayer’s money is being spent wisely and to exercise its role in final approval of the municipal budget it is imperative that a close working relationship with the town manager exists. It is also important to note that he must follow civil service regulation and our labor contracts when making staffing decisions. I personally don’t like layoffs as a means of reducing the staffing levels. Under civil service we often have to follow a last-in first-out policy and that is often unproductive. Mr. Cavallo recently used retirement incentives to reduce positions in a department that he determined was overstaffed.

I endorsed his approach. So my overall approach would be to continually consult with the manager whenever a vacancy exists to determine if there is a need to fill it, or could the work performed by the Individual who left be reassigned or automated. It could also provide an opportunity for a shared service agreement.

Right-sizing a municipal workforce without disrupting services can be done but it needs to be well thought out.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected].


  1. Dear Verona Friends,

    As the former Mayor of Verona, and current Council Member, it has truly been my privilege and pleasure to have served the community I love these past 8 years. While I am not seeking reelection this year, my commitment to Verona remains strong. That is why I am encouraging all of my Verona Friends to join me in my support for Donna McNinch Cannizzaro, and Ted Giblin in the coming election. I believe we need fresh, new voices on the Verona Council, and these two fine candidates will bring a much needed sensible and unbiased perspective to the dais.

    Donna is 5th generation Verona. Her father was a proud Verona Police officer, and she and her daughter Shannon are both products of our outstanding Verona schools. She is committed to maintaining transparency, stabilizing taxes, bolstering the essential services our residents enjoy and upon which they rely, and strengthening our public safety programs and policies. She will gather as much information as possible before making any decision concerning our town, and then that decision will be based solely on what is in the best interest of the entire community.

    Ted Giblin comes from a family of devoted public servants. His astute financial background will insure the highest level of, and commitment to fiscal management. He is a beloved father of two young children, and devoted husband to his wife Liz. Over the years, Ted has served on numerous committees in town. As a member of my Mayor’s Ball Committee, he helped raise nearly $20,000 which went to support myriad local charities and volunteer organization. His character and integrity are above reproach, and I challenge any of his opponents to prove otherwise.

    This is a pivotal time in Verona, and we need serious candidates who will work hard for our residents with no agenda other than what is best for the whole community. I strongly recommend and encourage you to join me in my support, and vote Line 1A, Ted Giblin, and Line 2A Donna Cannizzaro on Tuesday May 9.

    Thank you,
    Bob Manley


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