BELMAR, NJ — Belmar has brought aboard a new chief finance officer in a restructuring of personnel to manage the borough’s finances.

The borough council on April 7 appointed Ricardo Llanos as CFO in a part-time capacity and signed a contract with Holman, Frenia, Allison, P.C., of Red Bank to provide financial consulting and advisory services. Christine Manolio — borough CFO since December 2018 — will serve as assistant CFO, according to Mayor Mark Walsifer.

The move to shared responsibilities will mean there will be “more eyes” on the borough’s financial operations, including budget preparation and management, but without an increase in salary, health care and pension costs, he said.

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“Hopefully, this will work out, and everyone is in agreement this can work and save us money,” Walsifer said before the governing body unanimously approved both resolutions. “We’re going to try it out and watch it closely.”

Llanos, who also serves as a financial assistant with the Borough of Carteret, will be paid $20,000 by Belmar for working one day a week, while Manolio’s current $84,500 salary was reduced to $35 per hour — not to exceed $45,500 annually — as she shifts to an assistant post, officials said.

Under the professional services agreement, Holman, Frenia, Allison was hired for a fee not to exceed $4,500 per month.

In addition, the borough did not fill a human resources position after a recent retirement — a cost-savings of nearly $91,400 annually, according to its payroll records.

Manolio, who came to Belmar after retiring as Toms River chief finance officer in June 2018, is bound by pension rules and can only work limited hours a week — although she has gone “over and beyond” that since joining the borough nearly 1½ years ago, said Borough Administrator Edward Kirschenbaum.

In her reduced role, Manolio brings her “institutional knowledge” of Belmar’s financial operations to assist Llanos in his new role and to continue working with Belmar auditor Robert Allison, a partner in Holman, Frenia, Allison, P.C., Kirschenbaum explained.

She also will continue to cross-train the borough’s front-office staff in certain operational tasks and is working to automate the borough’s payroll system. In July 2019, Belmar ended a $17,000 shared services agreement with Spring Lake Heights for annual payroll management.

“We’ve only been reactive, not proactive, and things have slipped through the cracks,” Kirschenbaum said, referring to the need to have Manolio cross-train staff.

“We welcome the change. It was not done without thought and process … and will be good for Belmar,” he said, echoing the mayor's comments that the change will be evaluated moving forward. 

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