Stating its decision was “in the best interest of the taxpayers of Galloway Township,” council unanimously voted to deny former Manager Steve Bonanni over $50,000 in accumulated vacation and sick time following a closed session meeting Tuesday night, Feb. 12.
Bonanni was to be paid $51,765.24.
Mayor Don Purdy referenced allegations against the embattled former manager as a factor in the decision.
“We need to look at our exposure,” Purdy said. “We acted in the best interest of the taxpayer.”
Bonanni was one of the primary defendants named in a recent suit filed by former clerk Lisa Tilton, who accused Bonanni of sexual harassment as part of the suit. That suit has been but during the course of that litigation, former Galloway Township News Publisher Harry Scheeler published allegations that Bonanni was engaging in illegal activities during his time as manager, including engaging in these activities while on township time.
The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office has never confirmed the existence of an investigation into Bonanni’s actions.
“We did what’s good for the township,” Councilman Jim Gorman said. “If someone else wants to address it in the future, they can.”
“It may in the future be revisited,” Deputy Mayor Tony Coppola said.
Bonanni was Township Manager for from January of 2011 until January of 2012, when he retired. Prior to that, he was the Director of Public Works. Overall, he was an employee within the township for over 30 years.
The township first began discussing payout of vacation and sick time to employees departing the township a month ago. Unionized employees received their payments, but, at the suggestion of Councilman Jim McElwee, the township tabled resolutions authorizing payment to Bonanni and former Chief Financial Officer Jill Gougher, pending further analysis.
On Tuesday night, the township authorized payment to Gougher during the course of the regular meeting, but tabled the resolution concerning Bonanni in order to go into closed session.
The council voted 7-0 in favor of denying Bonanni his payout.
According to Township Manager Arch Liston, the township was in communication with Bonanni during the process. However, he didn’t comment on the nature of those discussions.
Bonanni wasn’t available for comment to Galloway Patch Tuesday night.
Council members indicated they are prepared for possible litigation.
“We’re always on the defensive,” Purdy said about litigation.
Within the past two months, the township has settled two lawsuits in the amount of $250,000 each. One was Tilton’s suit against Galloway.
On Tuesday, the township voted 6-1 in favor of settling with employee Jody Smith, who was suing the township, alleging a conspiracy in eliminating her former position as land use administrator/zoning officer. She is still employed with the township.
Purdy was the lone dissenting vote in that matter.