Berkeley Heights CFO Resigns Amid Accusations of Misconduct

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Township Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Tracy Tedesco, a town employee since January 2002, has resigned. Mayor Joseph Bruno told residents the news following an executive session on Monday, Jan. 10. The township filed a legal petition on May 23 intended to remove her for alleged misconduct including underreporting income and the amount paid toward health benefits.

“The CFO has resigned. We stopped paying her mid-July and she has been on administrative leave since then,” said Bruno. “No money was exchanged from our end to her.” The municipality is now looking for a new CFO, he said.

Tedesco’s alleged misconduct included poor attendance at council meetings, failure to maintain an accurate ledger, failure to process pension paperwork and improperly reducing her reported income for state and federal tax purposes.

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She was hired on a part-time basis with an annual salary of $35,800, with the availability of benefits on a “post-tax basis.”

Also at the Jan 10 meeting, the council introduced an ordinance to allow a restaurant to replace Mama’s Caboose at the train station. Mama’s Caboose burned down in May of 2010. The mayor said during the Jan. 1 reorganization meeting that the restaurant will bring the township $17,400 in rent annually. The public hearing on leasing the space to Yoram Aflalo will be held during the Monday, Jan 24 meeting which begins at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall.

Councilman Edward Delia voted “no” on two resolutions authorizing a special tax counsel to execute a Stipulation of Settlement relative to tax appeals. In an interview following the meeting he said, “I feel we should be addressing a town-wide assessment and we’re losing money every time someone appeals. Everybody’s property has gone down in value.”

On a similar note, the township successfully appealed its State Equalization Table to the county. Tax Assessor Robert Edgar told the council. “One sale was not used. By adding it, it increased our ratio which means we’ll save about $160,000 per year from the county.” The assessment for the property is $594,500.

Township police have received a $76,510 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to increase safety in township schools. The township must match the grant. Equipment included are a network base DVR, 38 Magapixel IP Cameras, cabling, a monitor, a network base video recorder, a laptop computer and other material.

Police Chief Michael Mathis was asked by Council President Kevin Hall to suggest an ordinance for future consideration regarding parking on snow-covered streets.

“We have nothing in place except the county freeholders will declare a snow emergency on county roads. We’d like to have something on the books for the township. We’d like to be able to use our discretion” regarding whether to just ask someone to move their car, or requiring that it be towed if the resident is uncooperative or absent,” Mathis said, noting in the 27 years he has been on the force, “we’ve never towed an illegally parked car.” He continued, “We need this tool in place so we can ask the resident to move the car.” The council will consider his request at a later meeting.

Also on public safety, Mayor Bruno said the township fire department handled 844 calls in 2011. “Our fire department was in Elizabeth at the burning biscuit plant. We patrol three exits on Route 78 and have a mutual aid agreement with the municipalities. Ours is one of the best fire companies in the state!”

He added, chipping and leaf clean-up has been completed by the Department of Public Works, complimenting that department.

The public is invited to join the council for budget talks beginning at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays, Jan. 25, Feb. 8 and Feb. 22 in the Town Hall.

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