cell-phoneTo make a quorum, two Fair Haven council members voted via cell phone to approve a new administrator Monday night. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)


In less-than-typical fashion, Fair Haven’s borough council voted Tuesday night to hire a new administrator to replace Mary Howell.

The surname should ring a bell. Theresa Casagrande, aunt to Assemblywoman Caroline Casasgrande, steps into the job today.

Although the vote to hire Casagrande, the former administrator and clerk in Spring Lake Heights, was unanimous, it was done with a slight departure from the usual roll call across the dais.

With only three council members present and two others unavailable, councilman Jim Banahan and president Jon Peters had to phone in their vote. Howell called the councilmen, who were together, and put her Blackberry up to a microphone so they could cast their votes of approval.

Casagrande’s hiring ends a four-month search for Howell’s replacement. The council, after receiving Howell’s resignation, took in more than 100 resumes and interviewed at least a dozen candidates, Mayor Mike Halfacre said.

“(Casagrande) was the unanimous choice, essentially,” he said.

The Spring Lake Heights resident will make $78,500 annually in the two-year contract, Halfacre said. Before she cut back on her hours last year, Howell was making $105,000 a year, with a contract that would have increased her pay to $111,000 this year.

Howell, who’s last day is today, has said she is leaving to become a full-time mother.

According to SLHeights Online, Casagrande was replaced as Spring Lake Heights’ borough clerk on January 3 “because she makes in excess of $70,000,” though her replacement was given approximately the same salary.