The Wall Township Committee will face a significant challenge in 2012 as it seeks to replace retiring municipal Administrator Joseph Verruni.
Verruni informed the mayor and governing body of his intention to retire June 1, 2012, in a letter dated Dec. 27. The longtime administrator, who will be starting his 20th year in Wall, said in an interview that while "public service is very rewarding," he is "looking forward to a new chapter in his life.
"I have not come to this decision without considerable reflection," he wrote Mayor Ann Marie Conte and the Township Committee. "The employees and professional staff I have had the privilege to serve with have made my job enjoyable and fulfilling," he wrote.
Committeeman Clinton Hoffman said it will be tough to replace Verruni.
"He has been the face" of Wall government for almost two decades, the committeeman said. "It will be a very difficult task" to replace him.
The Township Committee will have ample time to find a replacement administrator, however.
Verruni's employment contract specifies he offers 90 days notice before departing the township but he felt six months notice would offer the governing body the chance to have a "seamless transition."
"In an effort to be fair... I gave them extra notice," said Verruni, who also alerted the committee of the retirement possibility two months ago.
He plans to work through his retirement date and has told the governing body he would stay on past June 1, should the search for a replacement "become problematic."
Hoffman appreciates the six-month notice, as finding a replacement will "probably be the most important decision any of us can make."
The administrator, who Hoffman compared to a CEO, "really has a significant impact on the town."
Although the governing body can solicit resumes and interview candidates itself, the committeeman believes retaining a professional search firm would be the best option.
"I think we should avail ourselves of every opportunity available," Hoffman said.
In an "ideal situation," Hoffman said a replacement could be found and work under Verruni before his departure date to get a first-hand look at the inner workings of Town Hall.
And while the committeeman said the notice makes it so it's "probably not necessary" for Assistant Administrator Kate Kohri to handle the department on an interim basis, Verruni said she's "extremely bright and competent" and would handle the duties ably, if needed.
Verruni, who earned $179,656 in 2010, according to DataUniverse, has worked in local government for more than 30 years, with stops in municipalities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey before coming to Wall. Although he feels it's time to move on, the departure will be bittersweet.
"Wall has been extremely good to me over the years," he said today. "It's a special place. I'm thankful for the time I spent here."
In his letter, Verruni said it will be hard to say goodbye to his colleagues.
"I want to thank all my fellow employees, both past and present, for their dedication and hard work. I could not have had a better group of people to work with. It has been an honor to have been a public servant here in Wall Township for these many years.
"While I look forward to the next chapter in life, I will always look back on my tenure in Wall Township as a tremendous personal and professional experience."