Hillside Council votes no confidence 5-2 in CFO

HILLSIDE, NJ — The Township Council of Hillside passed a resolution on June 23 that declared it has “no confidence” in Glynn Jones, the town’s chief financial officer, claiming that he displayed a severe dereliction of duty in the performance of responsibilities mandated for the proper and accurate preparation and maintenance of records relating to the finances the township has incurred. The vote of no confidence passed 5-2.

According to the resolution drawn by the township of Hillside, Jones has failed in a number of his responsibilities, including not responding to inquiries from town officials, submitting an unapproved budget to the state, continuing payments to a former employee and failing to pay others contracted with the township.

According to documents sent to Union County LocalSource, the township found it imperative to set forth the lack of compliance with the requirements pertaining to the financial administration entrusted to a licensed certified financial officer.

“We’ve complained to the state,” Council President Gerald Pateesh Freedman said on July 6. “Despite our resolution, he has continued to be paid. He’s still getting paid despite the resolution we’ve passed. We’ve tried to put a budget together. He refuses to give it to the finance committee. He gave us a draft but that was not an official budget. We wanted to know when he would prepare an official budget but he kept putting it off. He wanted to do the same thing this year based on a 2019 tax rate.

“He’s getting money based on a 2019 10-percent tax increase,” he continued. “We finally had enough of it and we introduced our own budget. All of a sudden, the next day, he sent down his budget and claimed that what he gave us was only a draft. He hasn’t paid bills. It’s messy.”

Pateesh Freedman doubled down on how illegal he found the situation to be.

“I’ve been a councilman for 22 years — this is the worst,” Pateesh Freedman said. “We’ve had two years of fighting over and over again. I wouldn’t want to be this guy’s attorney, because he has so little to work with. We’re going to pursue this. This is illegal. I’d hate to see him lose his credentials, but what he’s doing is fraudulent and illegal. We might be back where we’ve started but we have to do something. Talking to him hasn’t done anything and the mayor is letting him do this stuff.”

According to the documents, the Township Council is urging the director of Local Government Services within the State Department of Community Affairs to have an independent review and audit of Jones’ activities. The council also wants a review and recommendations by the professional staff in the State Department of Community Affairs of what they’ve termed “chaos,” which the council says characterizes the dysfunction in Jones’ operation.

Jones denied the allegations made by the council and attributed the recent vote of no confidence to political machinations.

“The vote of no confidence has no basis in fact or law,” Jones told LocalSource on July 7. “The vote was initiated by some on council who have improper political and personal motives based on my whistle-blowing activities and my refusal to adhere to some council members’ improper actions and attempted improper actions. I serve at the pleasure of Mayor Vertreese, and the current administration supports how I serve the people of Hillside.”

According to documents sent to Union County LocalSource, the duties of the chief financial officer include serving as a custodian of all public funds; assisting in preparing the annual budget; ensuring the proper and accurate preparation, posting, maintenance and reconciliation, as applicable, of all books, ledgers, schedules, statements, reports and other records pertaining to municipal or county finances; and preparing all financial schedules and, as applicable, other records in such a manner as to facilitate audit review. Other duties include maintaining and monitoring separate accounts for all budgeted appropriations and anticipated revenue; preparing year-end reports of all revenues and expenditures; and providing the governing body with periodic status reports for all budget revenues and appropriations as they correspond to the annual adopted budget.

According to the documents, other responsibilities include preparing, analyzing and/or reviewing monthly reports of the treasurer, tax collector, financial reports of other departments and on all investments; providing leadership in helping the governing body develop fiscal policy, including preparing projections and calculations to support long-term plans concerning revenue, appropriations, surplus, the tax levy and caps, and the municipal budget appropriations cap. Another responsibility includes developing and implementing a system of internal controls to safeguard assets and monitor compliance, including other responsibilities.

According to the resolution, the list of Jones’ offenses includes paying bills without the prior consent of the Township Council, paying vendors not previously approved by the governing body, continuing a pattern and practice of not providing answers to inquiries by members of the governing body, maintaining a policy of not providing cooperation to the inquiries of councilmembers, failing to provide the requisite audited financial statement and ignoring the concerns of councilmembers and official auditors, and failing to make timely payments to grant recipients and thereby endangering future grant awards to the township.

According to documents, other offenses include failing to maintain an appropriate general ledger that can properly be relied upon by the governing body and negligently failing to pay approved counsels, auditors and other professionals, thereby requiring these parties to seek judicial enforcement to gain payments due. Additionally, Jones is accused of submitting an unapproved budget, which had not been prepared by the Township Council, to the Division of Local Government Services; failing to account properly for the distribution of overtime payments; and continuing payments to an employee no longer qualified to hold a position in the township.

Editor’s note: The online version of this story varies from the print edition’s version, which incorrectly named a law firm as representing the township.