Was Jill Shapiro appointed town administrator for six months or for two years?

Monday, May 19, 2014
by Christine Yeres

In January when three new members joined the Town Board, there was some confusion as to how the initial appointment of Jill Shapiro as Town Administrator had occurred.  Board members Elise Mottel and Jason Chapin had been left out of the decision, they said, and Supervisor Rob Greenstein had announced even before the new Board’s first meeting that “Our new Town Administrator will be Jill Shapiro.”  Shortly after, it was explained that her appointment would be for a six-month period.

Because the period ends June 30, in last week’s Town Board meeting, I meant to ask how Board members intended to decide whether to keep Ms. Shapiro in the position.  But because I had only just learned that her actual contract was for a two-year period, I asked instead whether the appointment was, in fact, for six months or two years.  The answer is “both.” 

In the Board’s January 10 meeting, newly-appointed Deputy Supervisor Lisa Katz explained why town staff appointments—including Shapiro’s—had been made for a term of six months rather than the customary two years.  “We’re three new members who haven’t had the opportunity to know the inner workings of the town staff,” said Katz.  “We didn’t want to fix something that’s not broken.  We want time to evaluate to make sure it’s not broken.”

In last Monday’s Town Board meeting, I told Board members that I had learned that they were not six-month contracts but two-year contracts. I pointed out that in his 100-Days interview with NCNOW, Supervisor Greenstein had expressed his absolute support of Shapiro to continue in the position, but that it would be a board decision.” 

“Are they two-year appointments?” I asked.

“They’re six months,” said Nick Ward-Willis, counsel to the Board.  “The Board voted to appoint them to their positions for six months.”  Jill Shapiro confirmed also that her contract was for six months’ duration. 

“Nick [Ward-Willis] will go back and look at the specific language of the contract,” said Supervisor Rob Greenstein. “The fact is, though, that the Board will be making a decision as to whether those five people [Shapiro, Deems, Comptroller Rob Deary and former DPW Commissioner Anthony Vaccaro] will continue.”  And it will be a full-board decision, Greenstein confirmed.

So here, I think, is what caused the confusion:  Shapiro does, indeed have a two-year contract as Town Administrator, at $135,000 per year.  But the first six months of the contract are considered an “initial Review Period.”

In the January 2014 minutes, the six-month terms that expire on June 30, 2014 are listed as the following:

TOWN CLERK- Mary C. Deems
MARRIAGE OFFICERS- Jill Simon Shapiro, Mary C. Deems

While Jill Shapiro and Mary Deems (Shapiro’s replacement as Town Clerk) were appointed as “Marriage Officers” for six months, the minutes also say that “for the purposes of retirement reporting” Jill Shapiro was appointed as Town Administrator for a term of two years; however, Shapiro’s contract is a two-year contract with a six-month “Initial Review Period.” 

From the contract:

“The Board shall review and evaluate the performance of Shapiro from the date of her appointment through and including June 30, 2014 (the “Initial Review Period”).  This review and evaluation shall be in accordance with specific criteria developed by the Town and Shapiro, and the Supervisor shall provide Shapiro with a summary of such review and evaluation with him and/or the Board.  During the Initial Review Period, the Town may terminate this Agreement with or without cause.”

After the “Initial Review Period” Shapiro may be terminated “for cause only.”

According to her contract, if Shapiro were to be terminated during the Initial Review Period, the town “shall reinstate Shapiro to her former position of Town Clerk/Receiver of Taxes at the rate of compensation that had been specified in the budget approved for 2014 ($102,990 plus $5,000 stipend).  In the event that no vacancy exists in such former position, the Town shall employ Shapiro in a comparable position at her former rate of compensation as Town Clerk/Receiver of Taxes through and including December 31, 2015.”

So through June 30, 2014, Shapiro is in a six-month “Initial Review Period” of a two-year contract. 

To view the contract, click HERE

In the video of the May 12 TB meeting below, the discussion of the town administrator’s term of office begins at the 35-minute mark.

Town of New Castle Board Meeting 5/12/14 from New Castle Media Center on Vimeo.

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