HOWELL – The Mayor and Township Council unanimously passed a resolution at a special meeting late last month, authorizing the removal of Brian Geoghegan as township manager.
The governing body began the termination process on May 24, 2022, giving Geoghegan notice of his removal as township manager for exceeding use of the contractual paid time off (PTO) portion of his employment agreement.
Authorities placed Geoghegan on paid administrative leave from May 24 until August 24 per statutory law and the terms of his contract. The township also appointed a forensic auditor to investigate the township manager’s use of time while employed by Howell. However, the results of the investigation have not been made public to date.
Deputy Mayor Pamela Richmond said that issues with Geoghegan’s alleged misuse of paid time off came up during contract negotiations.
Joseph “Joe” Clark has been named as Howell Township’s interim manager, a somewhat natural progression from his acting role as the township’s deputy manager. The move necessitated Clark to step aside from his position as Howell’s Director of Law.
Caitlin C. Harney, a lawyer with GluckWalrath LLP, temporarily replaces Clark as township attorney. Before becoming Howell’s Director of Law, Clark was a partner with the GluckWalrath law firm in Freehold.
“I think that Joe is doing a terrific job as township manager,” shared Richmond. “I like that he lives in the community and think he would make a great permanent manager.”
Richmond confirmed that the governing body had not started the process of advertising for Geoghegan’s permanent replacement.
Geoghegan’s termination went into effect just shy of his fifth work anniversary as Howell’s top non-elected official. A retired Jackson police officer, Geoghegan was initially appointed as township manager at a September 26, 2017 council meeting.
Four council members voted in favor of hiring Geoghegan when the motion came before the governing body. Mayor Theresa Berger gave no reason for her abstention on the vote at that time.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Geoghegan had two prior short-term stints in administrative roles in local government. He was the Business Administrator for Ship Bottom for just under two years. Geoghegan’s profile lists his job as the Administrator for the Borough of Highlands before he landed the position as Howell’s Township Manager.
Geoghegan faced controversy over some of his actions during at least the last couple of years. For example, when he shut down parks in October 2020, Richmond confirmed that Howell council members from both political parties called for him to reverse his decision.
As township manager, Geoghegan oversaw the day-to-day operations of the municipality. Retired Police Chief Andrew Kudrick, who reported to the township manager, lodged a formal complaint against Geoghegan. One of the issues under contention involved the use of sick leave benefits within the department.
Kudrick’s leadership had been in question before he retired. Howell Policeman’s Benevolent Association Local 228 issued a vote of no confidence, with only two of the 71 members voicing support for him in an anonymous ballot.