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New Administrative Hire Leads to Split Vote in Stone Harbor

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By Vince Conti

STONE HARBOR – Borough Council had a public discussion July 5 over the appointment of a new assistant borough administrator. Due to the appointment of Kim Stevenson as borough clerk, a vacancy was created in the office of the administrator. By a 3-2 vote, with one of the six-member council absent, Lisa Marcolongo, sister of the current county surrogate, Dean Marcolongo, was appointed to that vacancy. 

Two weeks prior, in a closed session, the council discussed the proposed appointment of Marcolongo to the assistant borough administrator position. According to public comments by Mayor Judith Davies-Dunhour at the July 5 meeting, the council members were unanimous in the closed session, with all supporting the appointment.  

Davies-Dunhour said there was a 6-0 public vote directing the borough to proceed with the hire following the closed session. Few, if any, members of the public remain through a closed session period to see if public action is taken. 

Things changed as Councilwoman Jennifer Gensemer objected to filling the $82,000 position without a financial plan for the borough. Gensemer said she could not support what she termed “out-of-control spending.” 

The position has been part of the borough’s ordinance for years but had never been filled. Previously, the administrator was supported by an administrative assistant rather than a higher-priced assistant administrator. Because the position existed, even if long unfilled, the borough treated the appointment as one that could just be made without public discussion.  

Bunny Parzych said she thought Marcolongo was being hired for the previously filled administrative assistant position. 

The lack of public knowledge of the upgrading of positions in administration brought former Mayor Suzanne Walters to the podium to object. It was during Walter’s questioning of the action that the salary for the position was publicly stated and the fact that the position had not been advertised. Marcolongo had applied for the position of recreation director and her resume was diverted to a potential vacancy in administration, which, at the time, did not yet exist. 

No one objected to the fact that the position was not advertised or that a non-competitive hire was going to a relative of an elected county official. 

In the end, Marcolongo was appointed by a split vote, with Council members Gensemer and Frank Dallahan dissenting. 

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