Utilities chair Mike Furrey fills vacancy on Vernon council

Vernon. The council cited his cost-saving achievements with the Vernon Township Municipal Utilities Authority when choosing Furrey among four interested candidates.

| 22 Oct 2021 | 02:53

Mike Furrey will replace Kelly Weller on the Vernon Township Council until the next general election next year.

Furrey chairs the Vernon Township Municipal Utilities Authority. The council approved his appointment at its Oct. 14 meeting.

Weller submitted her resignation on Oct. 1. She is moving out of Vernon Township.

“It’s amazing how she was able to stay on so long after the tragic event a year ago when she lost her husband,” said the township council president, Harry Shortway. “She’s done a great job and will be missed.”

Furrey will fill Weller’s seat until Nov. 8, 2022, when voters will elect the person who will fill the remainder of her term, set to expire on Dec. 31, 2023.

Councilman Andrew Pitsker said he was impressed by all four of the candidates he interviewed seeking to fill the open seat. But, he said, Furrey’s experience with the MUA made him the best choice to address Vernon’s immediate needs.

Shortway said as the MUA chair, Furrey helped the utility decrease professional and legal fees by 45.2 percent, engineering fees by 41.7 percent, and office expenses by 11.3 percent. Shortway said total administration fees decreased by 36.6 percent, resulting in a savings of $300,000 in 2020, and an estimated $600,000 over the last two years.

He said there were no utility rate increases over the last 18 months.

Furrey has been involved with the town for 20 years, including on the Environmental Commission, Greenway Action Advisory Committee, MUA, and other community volunteer groups.

“The other candidates’ letters of intent and resumes are remarkable,” Shortway said. “However, Mr. Furrey’s municipal and experience coupled with his record of successes make him the clear choice to fill the seat vacated by Ms. Weller.”

Councilwoman Toni Cilli was not present at the meeting. But in an email read by municipal clerk Marcy Gianattasio, Cilli said that while she supported Furrey’s appointment, she wished there had been more transparency and that the council had held public interviews like the Vernon school board did when her husband, Mark, resigned.

Cilli also said she believed Furrey’s experience with the MUA is essential to getting Main Street “up and running.”

With the addition of Furrey, Shortway resigned from the MUA board as one of its alternate members. His term would have expired in 2026.