GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Township Council voted unanimously Tuesday not to pay former township manager Steven Bonanni more than $50,000 in accumulated sick and vacation time pay.
The council went into closed session near the end of its meeting to discuss the resolution to pay Bonanni $51,765, then returned to the dais voted against it. Earlier during the meeting, the resolution regarding the payment was tabled.
“I think the township needs to look at their exposure. I’m only one person, but I don’t want to give him this money,” Mayor Don Purdy said after the meeting.
Purdy referenced allegations against Bonanni that are concerning to him and should be examined in the best interest of the taxpayers. The issues raised during Bonanni’s tenure warrants another look at giving him the money, Purdy said.
“The answer is no,” Purdy emphatically repeated regarding Bonanni’s payout after the meeting ended Tuesday night.
Bonanni retired Jan. 31, 2012, after serving as township manager for one year.
Bonanni was named in a lawsuit filed by former township Clerk Lisa Tilton who alleged in the lawsuit that Bonanni sexually harassed her, kept her from speaking to council and forced her resignation from the Planning Board.
Purdy and Councilman Anthony Coppola Jr. said the resolution to pay Bonanni will be looked at again and the township is prepared to face litigation.
“We’re looking out for the taxpayer and we’re always on the defensive,” Purdy said.
Tilton settled the lawsuit with the township in December for $250,000. The township also settled a lawsuit with current township employee Jody Smith last month for $250,000, and the council voted to accept the settlement during the meeting Tuesday evening.
The council also voted unanimously to approve sick and vacation time payout for former Chief Financial Officer Jill Gougher. Gougher left the township for another position in Asbury Park in July 2011.
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