The Bloomingdale Council may vote this month to approve the borough's mayor to serve full time and take on business administrator responsibilities, an unprecedented move for the borough.
Following an executive session discussion on Tuesday on moving to a full-time mayor model, the council unanimously voted to introduce an ordinance that would allow Democratic Mayor Jonathan Dunleavy to serve in the role. According to the ordinance that was introduced, the mayor is currently paid a maximum salary of $2,000 in the part-time role but would be paid approximately $84,000 based on what the council discussed. His responsibilities would then include the day-to-day management of the borough during standard business hours.
The ordinance's introduction comes two months after former business administrator Ted Ehrenburg resigned from his position after several years. Ehrenburg accepted a position in Bloomfield and Dunleavy had assumed some of the administrator's duties while the borough discussed filling the position. But then, the council discussed him serving full-time in the role instead.
"I think since our administrator left, Jon has stepped up and I am very impressed with his response, his work ethic and the work he's accomplished," Republican Councilwoman Linda Shortman said. "I've met with him several times and we've discussed town issues and goals. We haven't always agreed in the past, but we do have many of the same goals."
Shortman said she "wholeheartedly" supports Dunleavy serving in the role. She also said that "our code for business administrator precludes the administrator from taking part in politics."
Democratic Councilman Ray Yazdi said that Dunleavy serving in both roles also makes financial sense for the borough.
"It's roughly a $50,000 savings to the borough based on what Ted would have been making," he said.
The former business administrator was paid nearly $130,000, Yazdi said. Aside from the salary, Dunleavy would not be accepting a pension (mayors are excluded) and would decline the borough's health insurance. But new Councilman Mike Sondermeyer, also a Democrat, said Dunleavy taking on both roles is not only a good decision for financial reasons.
"We all know the mayor personally and know that he would be the best for the job," he said. "It's best to have somebody who lives in Bloomingdale and somebody who cares about Bloomingdale than somebody who lives outside the community and comes in.
While Republican Councilman Mark Conklin was unavailable for comment, the council's other two Democrats also favored the full-time mayor's position. Councilman John D'Amato said council members reached out to Dunleavy with the idea.
"We kind of approached Jon about this after Ted left," he said. "Jon had filled in for Ted since Ted left and, in my opinion, is doing a great job."
D'Amato said he felt encouraged that all council members voted in favor of the introduction of the ordinance, regardless of their political parties.
"They voted for it which is real positive going into 2013 that we're all on the same page and looking to save some money," he said.
Councilman Rich Dellaripa said he supports the idea of a full-time mayor with the added responsibilities, but he also supports the person who would be doing the job.
"It would bring to the position someone who is emotionally invested in our community and I believe that the quality of a person's work improves when they have a personal, as well as professional, stake in their job," Dellaripa said. "And as the full-time mayor would be serving that function at the pleasure of the council, it would not be difficult if, for whatever reason, it was deemed that it would be in the best interest of the borough to revert the mayor back to part-time and seek out a full time BA again."
Dunleavy commented that he would be excited to fill the role and thinks he could bring about positive change for the borough's residents.
"I was honored that I was asked by all the council members to consider this and I'm confident that I will do the job exceptionally well," he said. "I will get things done, bring results that the taxpayers will feel and I'm thrilled about a substantial savings that I'm able to bring."
The council will vote on the ordinance on final reading at the Jan. 22 meeting at 7 p.m. at Bloomingdale Borough Hall.