County admin, attorney to retire

Eskilson, McConnell announce retirements amid solar project fallout

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  • Sussex County Administrator John Eskilson (far left) and County Counsel Dennis McConnell (far right) have announced their retirements effective July 1. Photo by Nathan Mayberg

By Nathan Mayberg

Two of Sussex County's top officials have announced their retirements.

County Administrator John Eskilson and County Counsel Dennis McConnell will both retire July 1.

The retirements of the two veteran officials follow controversy over the county's dealings regarding the failed SunLight General Capital project which left the county on the hook for approximately $27 million in bonds it backed for the construction of solar panels on municipal and school buildings.

County freeholder George Graham had called for McConnell's resignation last month. Freeholder Gail Phoebus had also been increasingly critical of the county officials in recent weeks after information she received regarding attorney invoices were redacted.

Eskilson said this week that the invoices were redacted based on advice from county counsel. He said the material may still be unredacted after discussions with freeholders last week.

Pressure had also been building on the two from some town committees and councils in the county unhappy with the fallout from the solar deal.

McConnell has been the county's counsel for more than 25 years.

Eskilson has been the county administrator for 11 years. He was previously deputy county administrator, community development director in Newton, borough administrator of Hopatcong and Hardyston Township Manager.

On McConnell's retirement, Eskilson said the attorney was a "true professional."

Eskilson, 58, said he will be taking a break from politics after his retirement and will look to enter the nonprofit world working to build sustainable communities and economies.

Eskilson said county government was a "huge challenge" and that the issues involving the solar deals had become "all consuming."

"It does impact our ability to deal with day to day operations," Eskilson said.

Eskilson's three-year term as county administrator would have run out at the end of the year.

"I got a chance to work with a lot of good people," Eskilson said.

"We really run a lot thinner than a lot of other places in this state," Eskilson said about Sussex County's government.

Many of the county's department heads "get a lot done with very little resources," he said.

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