Officials tasked with hiring a new chief financial officer for Brick Township narrowed a pool of 18 applicants down to 10 who were interviewed, finally settling on John Clifford, who Mayor John Ducey said brings years of private sector expertise to the position.
Clifford, a Northfield resident, has three years of experience in the public sector, most recently serving as CFO of Middle Township, Cape May County.
“Joanne Bergin and I interviewed 10 people for the position and felt John was the best fit,” said Ducey, referring to Bergin, the township administrator, who will work closely with Clifford on all of the financial aspects of municipal government. “We didn’t need someone to come in and make a bunch of changes. We needed someone to come in and keep going forward.”
Ducey said Clifford will be paid a salary of $100,000 for the position, subject to annual raises to which all nonunion employees are entitled, and will serve for four years. At the end of the four year period, Ducey – or whoever is mayor – may elect to afford Clifford tenure in the position, or choose a new CFO. State law dictates that after an initial four year term, the CFO must either be reappointed to a lifetime position or replaced. The CFO can always be terminated for cause, however, said Township Attorney Kevin Starkey.
The previous CFO, Scott Pezarras, earned $185,000 in the position and had been with the township for decades, for years serving a dual role as CFO and administrator.
Clifford was unanimously approved for the post by the township council Tuesday night, though one member of the public, Charles Bacon, a former council candidate, questioned Clifford’s suitability for the position, referring to the fact that Middle Township’s budget is $20 million, compared to Brick $100 million.
Ducey reiterated that Clifford was well-qualified for the position, including a long stint as an executive with Edmunds and Associates, which produces financial software for government agencies. Brick, he said, uses Edmunds software for their municipal accounting.
“In that position, he was the one who went in and cleaned up problems in towns, in their finance departments,” explained Ducey. “He was the problem solver and the trainer of the towns.”