Borough has new zoning officer due to eligibility issue

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POINT PLEASANT BEACH — The borough has hired a new zoning officer, Ryan Griffin, after its current provisional employee, Gina Tumolo, was deemed ineligible by New Jersey State Civil Service Commission to take a needed certification test. 

A long discussion held during a borough council meeting Tuesday resulted in the new hire despite a challenge from Ms. Tumolo and Teamsters Local 469 President Fred Potter, who urged the council to table the action until an appeal submitted to civil service by Ms. Tumolo was resolved. 

The council did not fulfill this hope, as councilmembers Doug Vitale, Arlene Testa and Caryn Byrnes voted to hire Mr. Griffin. Councilmen Andy Cortes and Bob Santanello, who attempted to table the decision, ultimately voted against the move.

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According to Mr. Potter, Ms. Tumolo, who was appointed provisionally on Dec. 2, 2019, was expected to take the proper certification tests.

After the borough advertised for the permanent position through civil service, Ms. Tumolo was deemed ineligible by the Civil Service Commission, which pointed to minimum experience regulations.

“At this time I feel that our argument would be that I currently have an outstanding appeal, I did not misrepresent myself upon hiring, however, the borough of Point Pleasant Beach chose to advertise the position in a certain way through civil service, which they felt would deem me ineligible for the position, which is why I chose to appeal,” Ms. Tumolo said during Tuesday’s meeting.

According to Mr. Potter, Ms. Tumolo filed an appeal of that decision on March 4, giving her more than seven years of experience’s history to the Civil Service Commission. 

“We think with the state working remotely and people not in the office through civil service, there is some miscommunication within Civil Service itself,” said Mr. Potter. 

Mr. Potter said proof of the appeal was provided to the borough. 

Point Pleasant Beach officials said they had no proof of an appeal.

According to Borough Administrator Christine Riehl, since the borough is a civil service community, it is obligated to hire off of the Civil Service Commission’s list of eligible candidates for the position. 

The borough’s special counsel Ryan Carey said the Civil Service rules must be followed by civil service communities, thereby forcing the borough to hire Mr. Griffin, the only eligible candidate on the civil service list.  

“What you heard was a bunch of maybes and speculation…” said Mr. Carey. “I have not seen an appeal or any documentation of the appeal filed by the provisional employee.”

“What you do have is a list and under Civil Service rules, you’re required to take action relative to both the provisional employee that’s sitting in that position within 30 days and you’re required to take action… relative to the individuals that are on the list and that’s why you have the proposed resolution item here today to hire the new employee,” said Mr. Carey.

According to Mr. Carey, the borough has not received any notification from the commission to suspend the Civil Service rules in this case.

Mayor Paul Kanitra said the council should follow the advice of Mr. Carey, saying he was an independent, third-party counsel.

“Based on what I’m hearing, it sounds like this is legally the course of action we have to take,” said Mayor Kanitra. “If things unfold differently down the road, we’ll have a different course of action that will be recommended to us by a third-party objective attorney at that time.”

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