frank-mason-010111Frank Mason, seen here with borough Engineer Christine Ballard, will become CFO in Montclair. (Click to enlarge)

The keeper of Red Bank’s checkbook is leaving the borough government to take a similar job in Essex County.

Frank Mason, who has served as the borough’s chief financial officer since 2006, will become CFO for Montclair in late July, according to Red Bank Administrator Stanley Sickels.

“Montclair offered him a $25,000 increase, and it’s a big opportunity for him,” Sickels tells redbankgreen. “We love him dearly, but we can’t afford to match that.”

Mason, who also holds the titles of treasurer, comptroller of the water department and parking utility collector, was on a salary of $95,662 this year. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

As the overseer of Red Bank’s accounts, the CFO has sway in formulation of the annual budget, which this year runs at $20 million.

Mason replaced Terence Whalen,who resigned shortly before a 150-page audit came to light, reporting on sloppy bookkeeping practices that forced an increase in the tax rate.

Borough officials are expected to name former CFO Bruce Loversidge as interim holder of the position while a search for a permanent replacement proceeds, Sickels said.

Loversidge, who splits his time between Avalon and Philadelphia, said he hasn’t gotten a formal offer from the borough to return, but all anybody has to do is ask.

“I’m always happy to come back and help Red Bank out,” Loversidge said.

Mayor Pasquale Menna said the borough has advertised for the soon-to-open CFO slot, and far as he knows, the borough hasn’t had any resum├ęs come in.

If Loversidge steps back in to the role he held for more than 30 years, he’ll likely be paid with a weekly stipend, Menna said. Those details need to be worked out with Loversidge, as well as his OK.

“There have been informal discussion that are unofficial because all the dots have to be connected,” Menna said.

This will be Loversidge’s third go-round as borough CFO, and his second as a fill-in. He held down the post between Whalen’s departure and Mason’s arrival.

“Bruce is a team player. He is loyal to Red Bank,” Menna said. “I’m grateful that he’s stepped up to the plate to help us.”

Loversidge, who grew up in Red Bank and is brother to planning board alternate member Barbara Boas, said while he doesn’t mind keeping Mason’s seat warm, he’s also hopeful the borough can quickly find a permanent replacement.

“I’m not trying to come back full-time,” he said. “I am retired and I’m retired because I’m enjoying the heck out of it.”