Monday’s Town Council meeting was the last for Township Manager Matthew Cavallo and the Council and several town employees spoke last night about his contributions to Verona government over the last six years.
“He’s been working extraordinarily hard on arranging the transition,” said Mayor Alex Roman. “The transition memo he wrote is like ‘War and Peace’ already and it is just a brief summary of all the things that he has on his plate.” Cavallo, who came to Verona in November 2015, is taking a new position in Wyckoff. His replacement, Joseph D’Arco, is coming to Verona from Paramus and was also in attendance at Monday’s meeting.
Roman was part of the Council that hired Cavallo and he recalled that decision. “We found this bright, very eager young guy that had public service in his blood. Everything he did was about how to serve the community.” He thanked Cavallo for working so closely with him on a host of projects over the years. “We basically took this town apart and put it back together again, from from a paperwork point of view,” Roman aded. “We rebuilt the library, we bought the Poekel lots, we bought the Kruvant lots, we bought the Cameco lots, we got through affordable housing, we went through a full recodification.”
Verona Police Chief Christopher Kiernan thanked Cavallo for “steadfast support” of the department. “He has a vast knowledge base on public safety issues, which was an asset to push the department forward,” Kiernan said. “Over the last six years, on all the project we worked on, Matt had Verona’s interest first and at every turn, he treated us with respect, even in disagreement.”
There were shades of a roast in some of the comments.”When Matt Cavallo came to Verona and I found out how young he was I thought to myself, ‘Oh, great. I’m old enough to be his father’,” said Tom Jacobsen, Verona’s construction code officer and a town employee for 46 years.”But I noticed early on that Matt was wise beyond his years. If I needed advice on a particular issue, Matt always provided sound and reasonable guidance.”
Pam Priscoe, the assistant municipal assessor, praised Cavallo for his support of what she called Team Verona. “You’re a very kind and caring human being,” she said, “you care about everyone in this room, you care about everyone’s feelings, and you just want to make people happy and thrive. You’re very respectful person. I’ve always found that no matter what it was, you always welcomed everyone into your office.”
Also at Monday’s meeting, the Council approved a 26% increase to water rates in Verona. Four of the five Council members voted for the increase, which was precipitated by the need to purchase all of Verona’s water from the Passaic Valley Water Commission after the town wells were shut down because they could not meet raised state quality standards.
While none of the Council members welcomed the rate increase, Councilwoman Cynthia Holland was the lone No vote against the measure. Holland, who has spent her career in and around water, gas and electric utilities, said that Verona should have done a rate study and an asset management plan before considering an increase, especially one large enough to be what she called a “rate shock.” “I simply cannot support this ordinance as it goes against fundamentals of good utility rate-making,” Holland said.
Roman, however, saw the Council’s hands as being tied by the delays in getting the PFOA remediation at Verona’s wells resolved. “We’re in this for longer than we thought we were going to be, and we cannot run the utility at a deficit,” he said, pledging that the Council would revisit the water rates in the future. “We talked about a rate study last time. There’s not a lot of objection to doing one, but we felt that doing one right now while we don’t have our wells online would be a waste of money. We really do need to see where that project goes and when it’s going to end.”
You can watch the meeting in full in the video below: