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Galloway Township Denies Former Manager Steve Bonanni Accumulated Sick Time/Vacation Pay

Bonanni would've received $51,765.24.

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.

GallowayTwpNews February 13, 2013 at 03:06 AM
I guess tabled resolutions actually are newsworthy...who would have thought?!!
Mike Assad February 13, 2013 at 03:16 AM
Kudos to council for doing the right thing.
Keep Galloway Green February 13, 2013 at 03:54 AM
Amazing Galloway did something right for once. This must be a first!....lol
Ron Schreiber February 13, 2013 at 11:24 AM
K,G,G, I agree with you . let's hope the "Train" get's back on Track for the people .
Keep Galloway Green February 13, 2013 at 01:52 PM
But Galloway may get sued....again..... Can they legally not pay Bonnanni? OK Harry...I'll give you credit for that $51,000 saved.... You did uncover Bonanni's sordid affairs...lol
JerseyDevil February 13, 2013 at 05:02 PM
Green makes the valid point. Is Bonanni entitled to the payout per his employment contract? Should be a simple yes or no answer. If he's entitled to it under law council better have a sound reason for refusal or we will be sued again and it will cost us more money. I hope they're not setting themselves up to be sued for libel.
JerseyDevil February 13, 2013 at 07:15 PM
He's been retired 13 months and I would hope any improprieties would have come to light by now. The Township does not have the right to withhold contractually earned monies indefinetely. I will stick to my original position, if Bonanni chooses to sue, the Township will lose.
smithvillian February 13, 2013 at 08:29 PM
I am pleasantly surprised....big thank you for this decision. As far as the possibility of Bonanni implementing a lawsuit I would hope that there is enough circumstantial evidence and demonstration of this guy's gross misconduct and blatant exploitation of his role to deter him from moving forward but who knows he may crawl out of the hole he ran and hid in.....what does he have to lose...we all know everything all ready....OR do we..?..
GallowayTwpNews February 13, 2013 at 08:58 PM
Mr. Bonanni did not have a "contract" with the Township of Galloway. He had a memorandum of understanding which only spelled out the same policies, procedures and ordinances that were applicable to a "non-union" employee. Mr. Bonanni as Acting Manager was an at-will employee who could have been removed like any other non-union employee for "good-cause". The only thing Mr. Bonanni had was a resolution of council back in the 90's granting him tenure as the Director of Public Works. Nothing to do with compensation. If the Township launched an investigation, than they have the right to withhold pending the outcome. Official Misconduct is a seven year limitation to bring charges. I highly doubt the Township was going to conduct an investigation when pending litigation against Mr. Bonanni was still going on.
VTPat February 14, 2013 at 12:30 AM
It may be too early to call this a victory for the people of Galloway but congratulations nonetheless! This happened solely because of Harry Scheeler. Thank you Harry!
TheZog February 14, 2013 at 09:05 AM
I guess the "rocket scientists" on Council do not know what the NJ Labor Laws are all about. Even if an employee is hated or very unpopular, he/she must get paid his/her salary due. Wait for this lawsuit! The legislators of our township will now be accused of breaking the law. They cost us a lot of money, just like Bonanni. So, I assume that their paychecks will be withheld too.
TheZog February 14, 2013 at 10:22 AM
Another thought...... The council "ducked the bullet" when they settles with Lisa Tilton. So, as a result, the real goings-on never was made public. The actions of the "rocket scientists" on Council will now be sued by Bonanni. His "dirt" is out there already thanks to Harry and it cannot get much worse. But, what do you think that Bonnani has seen in his 35+ years in the management of that sewer called Galloway? That, which we were not able to view because Ms. Tilton settled, will surface when Bonanni sues for his rightfully-earned money. His dalliances on company time, although unethical, is not something that is rare. I have seen people show up at work and do nothing all day and they still get their paychecks. I do not like what he did but if he was not managed properly, then we have to look at the township managers who supervised him and look to the council members who managed him when he was township manager.
Lisa Tilton February 14, 2013 at 03:31 PM
TheZog: I disagree in reference to "the real goings-on never was made public." I filed a 96 page lawsuit that was extremely detailed and have participated in multiple interviews including an exclusive with Mike Assad. See here: http://openmicshow.net/2013/01/26/podcast11/ I also am the new publisher of GallowayTwpNews.com in which additional reporting on Galloway Government is being conducted. I have been open to discussions on exactly what had occurred in Galloway Township.
M Geiger February 14, 2013 at 07:42 PM
kmSdmbrbd
TheZog February 16, 2013 at 01:56 PM
Lisa - You performed a very brave act. But, in the courtroom, we would have heard testamony from their mouths that would have sent quite a few of the Council and some residents to jail. They would have been blaming each other for the crimes that they all committed. Paying you off with the insurance money was a cheap price to pay. That's what I meant.

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