Hopewell Borough hires firm to search for new administrator

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Firm will provide a temporary administrator during search

A search for a new borough administrator is underway.

The Hopewell Borough Council has hired Metuchen-based Jersey Professional Management [JPM] to conduct a search for a new borough administrator who will replace Maggie Schmitt. 

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The consulting firm will also provide a temporary administrator under the Council’s approved agreement with firm.

Schmitt’s resignation from the position comes more than two months after she took the oath of office in March to succeed longtime former Borough Administrator Michele Hovan, who retired.

Council President Charles Morehouse, Councilman Ryan Kennedy, Councilwoman Debra Stuhler, Councilman David Mackie, Councilwoman Samara McAuliffe, and Councilwoman Krista Weaver approved the resolution awarding the agreement to JPM at a special meeting on May 16.

According to the agreement, JPM will render recruitment services up to 90 days not exceeding $40,000. The 90 days can be extended by Council if they chose to do so.

A performance review of the new administrator will occur six to 12 months after the hiring.

The borough will pay a fee of $24,750 for the 15-20 hours a week of temporary administrator services and an additional fee of $12,750 for the recruitment services.

Tom Czerniecki, CEO of JPM, said the recruitment process starts with one-on-one or group meetings with borough senior management, department heads and supervisors to discuss what the borough is looking for in a new administrator.

“While that is going on we are going to have an ad and start collecting resumes,” he said. “I am going to start reaching out to people, who may not be in the job market.”

A second-round list will be generated by JPM from the pool of candidates. The firm will then reevaluate the selected candidates again and discuss their findings and recommendations with Council on who the governing body should invite to be finalists.

“Once we have our finalists in place, we are going to ask them to participate in a disc leadership assessment,” Czerniecki said. “Then we negotiate the salary, you vote on it and make the appointment, once we get through the final interviews.”

JPM’s Stephen Mountain will serve as the temporary borough administrator until a new administrator is found in the search process.

“I would look to focus my time and energy on the most important elements of the job as told to me by [Council],” Mountain said. “I will tell you it is almost impossible to do the job of municipal administrator and manager within the allotted hours.”

Mountain added that there is a difference on an interim basis then on a permanent basis as the contract hours are capped at a certain number of hours compared with permanent individual in the position.

“It will be a conversation with you all as to what are your priorities and how my hours are most suitably used,” he said.

The borough’s search for a new administrator has already been published on its website.

The administrator candidate must be able to effectively manage and meet multiple deadlines, manage large and small projects, seek and manage grants, manage shared services agreement, oversee all departments, and interface effectively with governing body, residents, professionals, volunteers and business owners.

Additionally, the candidate must not only be able to demonstrate knowledge of core municipal issues such as finance and budgeting or capital improvement planning, but they also must be a qualified purchasing agent [QPA] or must be willing to obtain one and a minimum of 3-5 years of supervisory experience, according to the borough.

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