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I would like to address recent statements directed at our town administrator.
First, some context. As everyone is aware, three new board members, including myself, the town supervisor, were newly elected. We also had new town attorneys. Our current town administrator had retired and was not available to stay on during a transition period. There was no deputy town administrator to step into the role.
There were no plans in place for a new town administrator. For this unprecedented transition, we needed someone who knew the town well. Just like when the prior town administrator was hired, we looked to our current staff. We did not interview outsiders. We needed someone who could, from day one, run the day-to-day operations of our town. We chose someone who had served the town in a nonpolitical role for years, and whose experience in law and government would allow us to hit the ground running. We chose Jill Simon Shapiro.
When we were elected, Jill was serving as the town clerk and receiver of taxes. She’s modernized our tax collection, records management and parking systems. For many residents, she was the face of our town staff. She had a long history in Town Hall. A practicing attorney, she had been one of the first town prosecutors.
A resident of New Castle since 1985, she’s lived in two neighborhoods in our town. She raised her children in our town, they graduated from our schools, and her husband served for two terms on our school board. Jill had worked well with the prior administrations and with our staff. We were confident that she would run the day-to-day operations of our town while we focused on policy and larger issues.
We were correct. The town has a lot on its plate these days and many challenges. But even with a leaner employee staff townwide, we are operating with greater efficiency. This winter was very difficult in terms of storms, and yet complaints were at a minimum -- a great credit to Jill’s coordination and management skills.
Jill’s qualifications in her work for New Castle, her litigation experience for New York state, even her legal teaching career, supplied us with the opportunity to build just what we had promised: a transparent and efficient government.
We also promised to grow greater and more positive relationships with the Chappaqua Central School District. After all, our schools are our greatest asset. It’s the very reason many chose to live in New Castle. As someone recently noted, the town administrator should be a best-practices, lead-by-example person, and Jill has been that person. Jill has been instrumental in that effort and brings to the table great personal and professional ties with the CCSD’s administrators and its board.
Jill’s willingness to work together with our administration has returned the relationship between the school administrators and town administrators back to its historical norm, that of cooperation and, in the event of disagreement, civility. In addition, with the mandate from the state to find joint municipal savings, Jill is uniquely qualified to work with the CCSD to find those savings. It should be noted that we recently received an email from the entire school board in support of Jill.
Someone suggested that the town of New Castle deserves a town administrator who will address past mistakes and put new policies in place to ensure things like misuse of town property and harassment are not tolerated. I agree 100 percent. And Jill has already worked on both areas. We already adopted a new vehicle use policy, and the board intends to implement a revamped harassment policy. We also adopted a new code of ethics.
I’m pleased to say that a majority of the Town Board agrees that Jill has earned the right to remain as town administrator for the entire two years of her contract. The town therefore will not be conducting an interview process to replace her. We have confidence in Jill’s abilities and we are grateful for her service. We value the fact that our town administrator has those same values and comes from our town, and fully appreciates the issues that face the town. Her experience has proven invaluable. We will not look elsewhere for that perfect candidate. We have the perfect person doing the job right now.