Town Manager To Depart

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Township Manager Matt Cavallo (far right) at the ribbon cutting for the Verona Place apartments in 2017. The Annin Lofts also added housing to Verona during Cavallo’s tenure, but his actions on affordable housing have kept those developments at less than half of what builders wanted to put up.

Verona Township Manager Matthew Cavallo will be leaving Verona for a new position in Wyckoff. Cavallo informed the Verona Town Council of his decision to leave on Friday and the Bergen County municipality approved his hiring on Monday.

“Matt is an extraordinary talent who has helped lead Verona through significant organizational change and numerous challenges,” said Mayor Alex Roman. “He has modernized and streamlined operations in every department while keeping up the high standard of service that our residents demand. He is leaving Verona much better than he found it; our roads, buildings, technology, and infrastructure all have seen upgrades and he has been diligent in setting policies and processes that will last beyond his tenure.”

Cavallo came to Verona in November 2015 after having been the business administrator for Washington, another Bergen County town, and has led Verona through significant changes to the township’s administration, employment, and technology. In 2018, Cavallo created an ordinance that, for the first time, put a formal structure around Verona’s government, setting out the structure and duties of municipal departments, as well as Verona Police and Fire departments. That has made it possible to do performance reviews of municipal employees and limit overtime.

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Cavallo also spearheaded Verona’s response to affordable housing developments, averting the builder’s remedy lawsuits that have upended communities across New Jersey. While we now face the prospect of 295 new apartments, that is less than half of what developers wanted to build here. In July 2020, Cavallo sent the Town Council an ordinance that has added 25 acres to the town’s protected greenspace.

Not everything he tried worked. Cavallo backed a measure to buy the former Congregation Beth Ahm synagogue and turn it into a new home for the Verona Rescue Squad. But a petition drive led by homeowners near the synagogue scuttled the purchase and the Rescue Squad remains in search of an alternative to its sorely outdated building. In 2017, Cavallo tried to resolve a pay dispute involving the town clerk, but the matter got caught up in New Jersey’s Equal Pay Act the next year and, in October 2020, the insurance fund that represents Verona paid about $500,000 to settle the clerk’s suit and a pay suit brought by the municipal court clerk, another female employee. That employee had also alleged gender discrimination by Cavallo, but he was dismissed from her suit before its settlement. 

Cavallo is the third Verona leader to announce a departure in the last four months. In August, Superintendent Dr. Rui Dionisio said that he would be leaving Verona for the Ramapo Indian Hills district and in September, CFO Matthew Laracy left to take over the finances of Millburn.

Mayor Roman is sanguine about Cavallo’s exit. “When we hired him, we knew that eventually the day would come where he would want to progress further in his career and move on from Verona,” Roman said. “I am certain that he will serve his new municipality well and wish him continued success. I’ve greatly enjoyed working with him over the years and congratulated him on finding this new opportunity when he told me he was moving on.”

Cavallo’s last day in Verona will be Friday, February 11, because he has a 90-day clause in his contract. Roman said the Town Council will begin a search for a town manager.

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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]

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