Hamilton Township announced today that Chief Financial Officer John Barrett has resigned effective June 1, as part of an agreement that also resolves a legal battle between Barrett and the township.
With Barrett no longer an employee, Hamilton Township voluntarily withdrew and dismissed a tenure complaint filed against Barrett nearly a year-and-a-half ago by then-Mayor Kelly Yaede’s administration. The CFO had been on paid leave since January 2019. The Yaede administration had begun investigating Barrett, accusing him of abusing sick leave and using his time on a side gig as a financial consultant to Spring Lake Heights in Monmouth County.
Barrett, in turn, filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the Yaede administration in February 2019, telling NJ.com the investigation was retaliation for questions he had raised regarding purchase orders signed in his absence.
In May, an administrative law judge recommended Barrett’s tenure be removed. The Division of Local Government Services had 45 days to take action after receiving the recommendation.
Meanwhile, Barrett’s suit under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act has been settled by the township’s insurance company for $20,000. The township said that had Barrett been awarded any money in court, Hamilton Township would have been responsible for all of his attorney fees.
Barrett had been township CFO since 2008. He also briefly served as township business administrator in late 2012, as part of a series of short-lived personnel moves in the aftermath of Mayor John Bencivengo’s resignation.
“Reaching an agreement with Mr. Barrett was in the best interest of all parties,” Hamilton Mayor Jeff Martin said. “It is both a faster and less costly resolution to end our disputes now than it would be if we allowed the process to continue. We now turn the page as we look to hire a new permanent CFO.”
The township also announced that the person filling Barrett’s spot—interim CFO Ulrich “Al” Steinberg—left his role with Hamilton Township last week. The township, in a press release, said Steinberg left after the state Division of Pensions’ rescinded their prior approval of his employment agreement with Hamilton.
Business Administrator Kathryn Monzo will also serve as interim CFO until a permanent CFO is hired.
Hamilton Township will be publishing a job posting for a permanent Chief Financial Officer with the New Jersey League of Municipalities and the New Jersey Municipal Managers Association.