Commissioners censure Hayden

NEWTON. Resolution says he failed to disclose to law enforcement and others threats of physical violence against other elected officials.

Newton /
| 20 Feb 2024 | 09:54

Four members of the Sussex County Board of County Commissioners voted to censure their colleague, William Hayden, at the board’s meeting Wednesday, Feb. 14.

Board director Jill Space presented a resolution stating that Hayden violated the trust of county residents by his actions and inaction, including failing to disclose to law enforcement and others threats of physical violence against other elected officials, engaging in a relationship with a subordinate employee, disclosing to others privileged content from the board’s executive session, and disseminating false and misleading information about the cessation of the county Weekend Bag program.

Space said he posted a comment Jan. 29 on Facebook about someone calling him and threatening to shoot at her home but he did not warn the Space family or report the threat to police.

”I personally find it appalling that he did not hang up the phone, call the authorities, call county counsel, call me, call my husband, call anyone.”

She expressed “utter disgust with Commissioner Hayden for deciding to keep that to himself.”

Hayden’s lawyer, Robert Kovic, disputed the charges in the resolution.

“These charges are about as arbitrary and capricious as anything I have seen in law. What is this, the old Soviet Union? Bill Hayden is under no duty to report anything. I am told there is a recording of a local official supposedly making a threat. If they have the audio, why don’t they take it to the police instead of using it to impeach Bill Hayden?”

He pointed out that the censure vote stems from questions that Hayden raised about finances of the county food pantry “and the no-show jobs that he has been investigating.”

Regarding the allegation that Hayden had a relationship with a county employee, Kovic said, “I think Mr. Hayden dated a woman for a period of time who works for the county. He is not her superior.

“As for discussing privileged content from executive sessions, they have given us no specifics and that is why people should die laughing when they read this.”

The censure does not affect Hayden’s ability to vote or to serve on the board.

Commissioner Jack DeGroot pointed out that elected officials are held to a higher standard. “But we ask to be in these seats.

“Commissioner Hayden will be in my prayers,” he added.

Cap bank resolution

Earlier in the meeting, the board approved a resolution establishing a cap bank that would permit the county budget to be raised by 3.5 percent from a year earlier if needed.

The board’s deputy director Chris Carney pointed out that the board does not intend to increase taxes by that amount.

Space said the proposed 2024 county budget is expected to be introduced at the board’s next meeting. “Our budget right now is looking very healthy” with an increase of 0.889 percent.

The board’s attorney, Douglas Steinhart, said that once the appraisal of the county jail is received, the terms for a public auction can be set. If there is no successful bidder, county officials can negotiate with interested purchasers.

Sussex County has a long-term agreement to house inmates at the Morris County Jail, and county officials have said they want to sell the Sussex County Jail.

Carney reported that a bridge carrying Mudtown Road over Clove Brook in Wantage will be replaced this year at a cost of about $1.4 million. Grants are expected to cover about $1.2 million of the cost.

He suggested that county employees be acknowledged on their milestone service anniversaries, such as five years, 10 years and more.

DeGroot said he has spoken to officials of several towns about increasing farmland preservation. He also met with the county Open Space Committee, which is exploring an acquisition near Lake Owassa in Frankford.

Space reported that Catholic Charities is assisting homeless veterans with three-day emergency hotel stays as well as case workers. For information, call 855-289-8527.

She also said Limecrest Subacute and Rehabilitation Center in Andover Township has been sold. The facility’s suspension from Medicaid has been lifted as has the state Department of Health’s order to halt admissions there.

Earl Schick was attending his first board meeting after being chosen to replace Dawn Fantasia during a Feb. 3 meeting of the Sussex County Republican Committee.

Other resolutions approved:

• Authorized $1.4 million for installation of guide rails and repair work. The federal funds are from the American Rescue Plan Act.

• Authorized an agreement with the Land Conservancy of New Jersey to pursue the acquisition of development easements on the Tres Amici Farm in Hampton Township, Vosper Fox Farm in Stillwater and Hubbard Hill Farm in Wantage.

• Appointed former commissioner Herbert Yardley to the Sussex County Community College board of trustees.

• Appointed Lisa Mauriello to the Sussex County Mental Health Board.

• Reappointed Jennifer Colville, Diahann DeRuggiero, Deborah Berry-Toon and Ingrid Vaca-Bullaro to the Sussex County Youth Services Commission.