Following a two-hour-long executive session at the end of the July 16 meeting of the New Paltz Town Board, board members emerged to make the big surprise announcement of the evening: Upon receipt of official notification from Ulster County that New Paltz’s proposed revisions to the Civil Service job description for a municipal comptroller had been accepted, a majority of the Town Board had made its choice from among the candidates contending for the $75,000-a-year full-time position. The job will be offered to Jean Gallucci, who resigned from the Town Board in January, having served three years of her four-year term.
Prior to being elected to the Town Board in 2011, Gallucci had served a full term as a Village of New Paltz trustee and held the position of village clerk before that. She developed a reputation for fiscal acumen and thorough familiarity with state, county and union regulations, policies and reporting requirements pertinent to municipal budgeting. After missing several months of Town Board meetings last fall due to illness, Gallucci tendered her resignation effective the end of the year, saying that restructuring at her place of business had given her a much heavier workload and a much longer daily commute. Now, it appears, the Town of New Paltz will become her employer.
The vote to confirm Gallucci’s hire was 4-1, with councilman Dan Torres the sole Nay vote. “I think Jean will be great for the town,” Torres said, but explained that he could not bring himself to vote to offer a town job to a former elected official. He had studied the Ulster County guidelines in such matters, he said: “I don’t think it’s best practice to hire someone who served on a board that created the position.”
“Jean wasn’t part of the board when we created it,” countered supervisor Susan Zimet. “I cannot deny this town the best person for the job… I want to walk away leaving this town’s finances in good hands.”
Marty Irwin, who was recently appointed to fill the fifth board seat until the end of Gallucci’s unexpired term, said, “I share Dan’s concern,” but added that he was voting for the hire anyway, because the county hiring policies do not apply to towns. “I will work to change the town rule” to bring it into conformity with the county guidelines, he said.
Councilman Kevin Barry termed Gallucci “by far the most qualified” of the candidates whom he had interviewed for the position. Councilman Jeff Logan reminded the audience of the fiscal nightmare left behind by the previous town administration, citing a list of deficiencies found in the state comptroller’s subsequent audit. He said that in order for the town to face future budgetary demands, the comptroller would have to be able to do “forecasting,” and that Gallucci has the necessary competencies. “New Paltz needs a fiscal professional,” Logan said. “Her skills are exactly what the community needs.”