By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO August 4, 2006 The Sullivan County Legislature made it official on Thursday in a special meeting of the full body Town of Winslow, New Jersey Administrator David Fanslau was unanimously chosen as the new County Manager.
He replaces Interim Manager Richard LaCondre, who will return to his role as Commissioner of Financial Management. LaCondre and former General Services Commissioner Harvey Smith shared the role of County Manager until Smith retired last month. They took over for Dan Briggs, who was removed from office in a controversial vote along party lines last summer.
Fanslau will take office in mid-September. His salary is expected to range between $115,000 and $120,000. A formal contract has not been signed yet.
Legislators said he was chosen over the other candidates for his knowledge of the area and his eagerness.
Legislator Sam Wohl said he did his homework during the interview process, adding that Fanslau came well prepared to the interviews, with knowledge about the recent flooding, the landfill and the jail, even though he was working and living in South Jersey.
Chairman Chris Cunningham said the hiring process was long and difficult at times but believed the county had arrived at a satisfactory conclusion.
Fanslau patiently answered questions from a mob of reporters afterwards. He described the county as having a lot to offer. He called the new Bethel Woods Center for the Arts as having the potential to be the gem of the county.
However, he admitted there are a number of challenges with the budget and the efficiency of programs. Fanslaus top goal will be to maximize budget efficiency by analyzing departments and purchases, in order to ensure they are as cost-effective as possible.
There is no doubt that he will take office at a time when the county is preparing for what could be its most painful budget in some time. He said he would like to avoid property tax increases, which he labeled a regressive tax. He supported an increase in the sales tax instead. He also said that laying off employees would be his last recourse.
But statements made by Legislature Vice Chairman Jonathan Rouis earlier in the day were quite the opposite. Rouis indicated that layoffs and a property tax hike were likely.
Economic development will also be at the top of Fanslaus priorities. He repeated statements made last week that such development will be different for each town and that a dialogue with those towns will be needed.
Casinos have a place in Sullivan County, stated the new manager. A casino would be a revenue enhancer in his view, if the county can mitigate the negative issues. At the same time, the countys attraction as an outdoor and sportsmens paradise would have to be equally promoted, he said.
As for the countys landfill, he continued to state that extra efforts will have to be made to eliminate odors on site. He expressed his opposition to importation of garbage, which would fill up landfill space too quickly.
Another major capital project a new county jail was also on his mind. He said it would be important for him to stay on top of the jails construction expenses to make sure it remained on time and on budget.
Responding to a question about the tragic floods which terrorized parts of the county in June, Fanslau said that it was essential to push federal representatives to get the Army Corps of Engineers to Work on providing flood control efforts in certain areas of the county, particularly in Livingston Manor.
And with the ongoing NYRI powerline issue, Fanslau said he would consider contacting the United States Department of the Interior to oppose the powerline construction based on the presence of bald eagles in the area.