Villarma named interim borough manager; Lane interim deputy

After Jeff Good’s resignation, Finance Director Mason Villarma was named interim borough manager and Borough Clerk Kim Lane was named deputy interim borough manager while the assembly seeks a permanent replacement for the role.

Mayor Patty Gilbert and Vice Mayor David Powell will negotiate new contracts for Villarma and Lane that the assembly will consider at its Oct. 24 meeting.

Good’s resignation is effective on Jan. 1, 2024, but he will be taking stretches of time off in the intervening months.

On Oct. 10, the assembly held a closed-door executive session to discuss its strategy to fill Good’s job. Assembly members and staff weighed whether to hire a new borough manager directly or search for an interim replacement and, if they were to hire an interim replacement, whether they should advertise externally or promote a current staff member.

“I think we made the best decision to promote forward progress by promoting from within,” Gilbert said in announcing the two interim appointments. The next three months before 2024 are a “delicate period” that she hopes to use for planning and preparing new projects for construction next summer.

The borough is taking a “two-pronged approach,” Gilbert said, by having current municipal employees cover the roles while advertising externally for a new permanent replacement.

The decision is also informed by past precedent — when Lisa Von Bargen resigned as borough manager in 2021, Villarma and Lane took on additional duties until Good assumed the role.

“Both the borough clerk and borough finance director have been working closely with … our current borough manager,” Gilbert continued. “I anticipate a smoother than normal transition as we search.”

The pair met with Good on Oct. 13 to discuss their duties and goals, then with met with Gilbert and Powell on Oct. 16 to discuss their contracts.

Until the late October meeting, Villarma and Lane’s exact duties are still under negotiation. However, Villarma plans to focus on the borough’s major projects, including the water treatment plant upgrades, the Alder Top Village (Keishangita.’aan) subdivision, maintenance on borough facilities and “executing any other goals the assembly has over the interim period.”

“(I’m) really grateful for Jeff’s contributions,” he added. “I think, moving forward, I just want to continue to support (departmental) directors to the greatest degree and execute their objectives in their respective departments.”

In January 2022, Good transitioned from interim to permanent borough manager; Villarma is undecided about whether he would consider a similar move.

Lane anticipates that her role as deputy will focus on the administrative and procedural tasks that are her specialty. “I am going to assist (Villarma) whenever he needs me to,” she said. “Anything that I can do, I’ll take that on so that it frees him up.”

“I’m excited for this opportunity,” she added. “I think that we’ll have some exciting stuff coming forward. We have so many things coming up on the horizon.”

 

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