Council appoints new administrator, rec director

West Milford. Township Council members unanimously approved two key hires to serve as administrator and the recreation director Wednesday night. Wyckoff resident Bill Senande will join the township on Feb. 3 in the dual roles of township administrator and clerk. Township resident Daniel Kochakji will be the new recreation director.

| 15 Jan 2020 | 10:31

The township has a new administrator/clerk, and recreation director.

Township Council members voted unanimously Wednesday night to hire Wyckoff resident Bill Senande to serve as both the administrator and township clerk, replacing the late Antoinette Battaglia, starting Feb. 3 at a salary of $140,000 total for both positions.

Mayor Michele Dale said she was “impressed” with Senande’s resume as well as his demeanor and ability to work with others.

“I am looking forward to working with you for the next four years, and for you to embrace this community as you start as the number one leader, next to the mayor,” Dale said.

According to his Linkedin profile, Senande has a bachelor degree in science, finance and economics from Rutgers University, a law degree from Seton Hall and is currently working on a doctorate in public administration back at Rutgers.

His professional experience, according to his profile, includes working as the city administrator and chief financial officer for the City of East Orange, the borough administrator for Bergenfield, and the municipal clerk for the City of Union.

He was also an attorney in the City of Newark Corporation Counsel’s Office and the chief financial officer/business administrator for that city’s school district.

He holds licenses and certifications as a certified municipal financial officer, certified tax collector, and a registered municipal clerk.

He said he is leaving his current position with the state Department of Education as executive Bergen County business official where he oversees the county’s 76 school districts.

He said he moved from the municipal side to the school side during his career so he could get his school administrator’s license and to get a handle on how the money is spent, due to the fact that more than half of property tax bills are due to school budgets.

“I started my career in municipal government in 2000, I wanted to make sure I knew where all the money was going (in a municipality),” Senande said after the meeting. “I’m hard working and dedicated and I’ll do my best to achieve the goals of the mayor and the council.”

Dale said that Senande would fill both the administrator and clerk positions for a while as a money-saving measure, and would see how it goes.

Battaglia held both positions when she was appointed by former Mayor Bettina Bieri in 2015, and was paid around $136,000 a year.

She was removed as a part time administrator in December 2018 by a previous council, and continued on as clerk until her death from cancer in May of 2019.

The council also unanimously approved the appointment of township resident Daniel Kochakji as the new community and recreation director at an annual salary of $80,000.

She said Kochakji has a master’s degree in elementary education from Southern New Hampshire University and is settled in the community with his young family.

Dale said she was impressed by his enthusiasm for being involved in the township and his ability to work with the existing department’s staff to evaluate and review its current operations, as well as his ideas for programs.

He begins work Jan. 27, Dale said.