Bonanni looks forward to long-deferred retirement

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One reason Steve Bonanni says he’s retiring from Galloway Township is to spend more time with his grandson, Hayden.

Acting township manager stayed on two additional years

GALLOWAY – Denied the chance to retire at 55 by a call to serve his community, Steve Bonanni announced Tuesday, Jan. 10 that he will retire as township manager and director of public works – hopefully next month.

“I’d like to retire effective February 3,” Bonanni, now 57, told The Current Tuesday. “Council would have to approve a resolution for me to leave.”

Seven months ago, Bonanni received a contract extension through December 2012.

“I want to have time to spend with my kids, my grandson and my wife,” he said. “I always wanted to retire at 55 years old, but in order to help the township through these tough economic times I offered to stay longer and accept the position of acting township manager at the urging of council.”

Resolving quality of life issues over the past 33 years here were his biggest accomplishments, Bonanni said.

“That’s what makes living in Galloway so great,” the longtime township resident said.

“We’ve added sewer extensions and water extensions that have made people’s lives better.”

Asked to pick one accomplishment, Bonanni chose obtaining a traffic light at Damson Avenue and Route 30.

“We petitioned for that traffic light by Ram’s Head,” he said. “Now 200 families can make a left safely onto Route 30. I believe that has actually saved lives. I’ll never forget; we really fought for that.”

Bonanni received nothing but praise from Deputy Mayor Tony Coppola.

“Steve has served Galloway Township over 32 years of his life,” Coppola said Tuesday. “He didn’t come to us to be manager. We came to him. He helped resolve our labor problems. He gave and he served.”

Coppola said he didn’t expect Bonanni to change his mind since he was preparing to retire when they got him to assume the second job as manager.

“I don’t think we’ve identified anyone in the township to fill that spot,” he said. “I expect to post with the League of Municipalities almost immediately.”

The deputy mayor said he wanted to explore applicants outside typical circles.

“We want someone with exceptional integrity, exceptional ethics and an in-depth understanding of the rules and regulations of municipal government,” Coppola said. “This is a turning point. If we’re serious about turning Galloway around, it starts here.”

In addition to securing contracts with the Teamsters Local 676, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 210, and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 68 that ended a possible $600,000 township liability, Bonanni said he led negotiations for inter-local agreements including assuming Mullica Township Emergency Dispatch, shared IT services with Absecon, changes in fleet maintenance services, and a change in the municipal prescription plan.

“(Other) issues involved the installation of the welcome to Galloway sign at the entrance to the Garden State Parkway and two applications for open-space funding for properties from Atlantic County,” Bonanni said. “We’ve obtained savings from natural gas, electricity and gasoline and diesel-fuel bids as well as refunding of old debt.”

He calculated a total savings to the township of $340,000 for his actions.

“In 2011 we had to deal with Hurricane Irene,” Bonanni said. “We also had special events including the Salute to Our Veterans, National Night Out, Carnival, LPGA, Martin Luther King Day and Veterans Day that were all great successes.”

Council asked him to accept the one-year extension through the end of this year to bring stability to the township after it replaced longtime Chief Financial Officer Jill Gougher and municipal clerk Lisa Tilton.

“Both of these positions have been filled by excellent employees,” Bonanni said. “After careful consideration, I feel that by retiring now – two and a half years after I wanted to retire – my salary can be used to potentially save other employee positions in the police or public works departments should reductions in staff be required.”

In addition to being manager and public works director, Bonanni is also a member of the planning board. He has been a Galloway Township Athletic Association coach and a Police Athletic League vice president, coach and referee.

Bonanni was president, vice president and region director for the Region 7 Public Works Association. He’s served on the YMCA Investigative Committee and the Veterans Celebration Committee. He’s been an alternate Joint Insurance Fund commissioner and an emergency management officer.

He teaches government courses at Rutgers University.

“I have dedicated my career to the township and have been honored to be able to serve the residents … by enhancing the quality of life in areas such as health, welfare and safety,” Bonanni said. “I would like to thank all of the township residents, employees and volunteers for your continued support over the past 33 years.”

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