's Village Manager is expected to be appointed as a Commissioner of the Northwest Bergen County Utilities Authority (NWBUA) at the upcoming Bergen County Freeholders meeting.
Ken Gabbert, who's served as Ridgewood's Village Manager , is on the agenda to be appointed to the utilities department on March 7. The body, which counts nine members, is responsible for overseeing sewage processing for the ten communities in Northwest Bergen County.
Howard Hurwitz, the Executive Director of the NWBUA, said Friday some present commissioners have received a $5,000 stipend and medical benefits. That is, until County Executive Kathleen Donovan in recent months condemned the taxpayer expenses, .
A spokesman for the Freeholder Board, which makes the appointments as recommended by Donovan, said Gabbert and the other nominee (Elizabeth Salazar) would not be receiving stipends or medical benefits if they're to be appointed on March 7.
Ten mayors in Northwest Bergen County – including Ridgewood Mayor Keith Killion and Gabbert, who until recently was the mayor of Upper Saddle River – wrote a letter in support of the recent vetos.
Donovan's Chief of Staff, Jeanne Baratta, did not return several requests for comment.
According to Gabbert's Memorandum of Agreement signed with the village on May 26, 2010, Gabbert needs explicit approval from the council in advance for "outside employment".
Per the memorandum: "During the term of his employment as Village Manager, Dr. Gabbert shall not engage in outside employment, except as has been approved in advance, by the Village Council. It is understood by the parties that Dr. Gabbert is a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Bergen County Joint Insurance Fund, the New Jersey Excess Joint Insurance Fund and the Municipal Excess Liability Fund."
Several village council members had not been made aware of the prospective appointment, they said.
Councilman Paul Aronsohn, who has , said: "Any professional obligation that could potentially affect his Ridgewood responsibilities should be vetted by the Council first. Clearly, we need answers."
But Councilwoman Bernadette Walsh, remarking that she's not an attorney, said she doesn't believe the appointment would constitute "employment," as there is no salary or medical benefits associated with it.
Mayor Keith Killion said he had not been made aware of the nomination prior to this reporter's phone call. He said the council will discuss the matter with Gabbert at a closed session meeting, as it's a personnel issue.
Village Attorney Matt Rogers, reached by phone Friday, said he had not been aware of the appointment and did not know if it would be considered "outside employment".
The NWBUA typically meets the first Tuesday of the month. Appointees serve five-year terms.
Gabbert did not respond to requests for comment.
[Editor's note: This article was last updated at 5:12 p.m. Friday to include comment from Mayor Keith Killion.]