Vernon delays Michael Furrey appointment to utilities board

Vernon. Some point to a conflict of interest, but Furrey’s company, Agra Environmental and Laboratory Services, no longer does business with the township.

Vernon /
| 27 Dec 2021 | 04:24

The Vernon Township Council on Dec. 13 tabled a resolution to appoint Councilman Michael Furrey as an alternate member of the Vernon Township Municipal Utilities Authority Board.

The measure to table to passed 4-0. Council President Harry Shortway said he had a conflict of interest and recused himself from the conversation.

Furrey had been the chair of the board with a term scheduled to end in February 2022, but he resigned his position on Dec. 1 because he could not keep up with the demands that came with being chair.

Councilman-Elect Patrick Rizzuto, who will take office on Jan. 1, 2022, asked whether there was any notifications of Furrey’s seat being available.

Councilwoman Toni Cilli said she didn’t see any application for the seat, and Councilman Andrew Pitsker called the process flawed and believed the matter should have been tabled until 2022.

Pitsker and Cilli will both leave office, along with Council Vice President John Auberger, at the end of the year.

Pitsker was hopeful that Furrey could be appointed in the new year.

“Mr. Furrey has been a key element to the MUA over the last 18 months, helping us secure, $600 in cost savings, and another $300,000 this year,” he said. “We have been fighting to stabilize the rates and have done a great job under his tutelage, and I don’t want to lose that.”

Others have said his being on the MUA and serving on the township council and other committees is a conflict of interest as his company, Agra Environmental and Laboratory Services, does business with the township and the Vernon Township School District.

Agra no longer has a contract with the township still does business with the school district, a completely separate entity.

Township resident Peg DiStasi said he has been under scrutiny since 2010 due to those affiliations.

“Either be a paid volunteer or be a paid consultant,” DiStasi said. “You can’t have both.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to add the statement that — contrary to the assertion by Mike Furrey’s critics — Agra Environmental and Laboratory Services no longer does business with Vernon Township. It still has a contract with the Vernon Township School District, which is completely independent of the township council. The Advertiser regrets the error.