STAFFORD – Stafford Township has seen a lot of new since the start of 2019: new mayor, new council, and now a new business administrator.
Matthew von der Hayden was recently named the new business administrator for Stafford Township, making his first appearance at the April 2 council meeting. Von der Hayden is succeeding former administrator James Moran, who served Stafford for nearly a decade.
Von der Hayden is a south Jersey native, residing in Petersburg with his wife and three children. He comes to Stafford from a stint in Egg Harbor Township, where he worked for a little over two years as a deputy business administrator.
“Usually with administrators, it depends on their different path but I started out as a chemist,” von der Hayden told Jersey Shore Online.
With a degree in Biological Sciences, he worked as a chemist and a microbiologist for some time before moving into his first local government position at the Atlantic County Utilities Authority.
He worked as a lab chemist at the waste water treatment plant for the Atlantic County Utilities Authority before taking advantage of a program they offered to go back to school. Von der Hayden then got his Master’s in Finance and Accounting.
“I worked in chemistry and microbiology for a long time and…it wasn’t really what I wanted to do,” he explained. “I was good at it but…I didn’t go to work every day and think ‘Yeah this is what I want to do’.”
Instead, von der Hayden found that passion later on in his life when he discovered a career as an administrator.
Once he earned his MBA, he then went on to earn his MPA (Master of Public Administration) at Villanova. Following this he saw his first opportunity to work alongside more elected officials and administrators.
“It was then I discovered that this is really what I want to do,” he said. “It would be neat to go work for a city and help build buildings, build roads, really affect the community, that’s what set me on line to look for a municipal job.”
Von der Hayden worked in a management position at the Atlantic County Utilities Authority for approximately 8 years before finding his way to Ocean City where he took on the duties of capital planning.
In Ocean City, von der Hayden helped enact road rehabilitation projects after Superstorm Sandy hit in 2012, worked on pump projects, and went after certain grant opportunities to help the city recover. Through this process, Von der Hayden was able to get involved with a bunch of different state and federal agencies, including the Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the NJ Department of Transportation, (NJDOT), and the NJ Department of Environmental Protections (NJDEP).
“My goal was always to be a business administrator,” said von der Hayden. “I was at that department level and there was no real opportunity to do that in Ocean City.”
That is when von der Hayden landed himself a spot in Egg Harbor Township as deputy administrator, where he would also occasionally take on the role of administrator if needed.
Von der Hayden worked on capital improvements, grant funding, and specialized projects in this new position, but also got his first opportunity to work on the fiscal side of municipal operations with the township budget.
Von der Hayden also noted that he is a member of the ICMA, which is an association of professional city and county managers that serve local governments, the NJ Municipal Managers Association, and also passed testing for to become a Certified Facility Manager (CFM).
While in Egg Harbor, von der Hayden accomplished much. One thing he is most proud of is his work bringing the township’s Sustainable Jersey rating up to silver, which is the highest it can be.
According to its website, Sustainable Jersey is “a certification program…[and] a 501 non-profit organization that is helping New Jersey towns build a better world for future generations by supporting community efforts to reduce waste, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and improve environmental equity.”
While Stafford Township is not currently involved, von der Hayden plans to change that.
“I’ve spoken with the environmental commission [but] that program runs on a yearly basis, so to get an application in in June, at this point you need to have a Green Team set up,” he explained.
With the application deadline only a little over a month away, von der Hayden hopes to have a Green Team up and running in Stafford and a Sustainable Jersey application in the works this time next year.
As of now, von der Hayden is still getting acclimated to his role in Stafford Township. His major priority within his first few weeks was to get a 2019 municipal budget introduced (which was made public on April 17 at the council meeting.)
In these first few weeks, von der Hayden picked up on some major issues from the township residents, including property issues, the dredging in Beach Haven West, and road paving issues.
“Those are things that we’re going to look into in the future with the council and the mayor to start to develop things like road programs,” he said. “Most of the first few weeks have been getting that input so we can move forward together.”
While von der Hayden is starting small as the new administrator, he has big plans for Stafford Township.