Police Chief John M. Sgro has another title — borough administrator. He will serve in that position free of charge.
It was Sgro who suggested the idea to Mayor Christopher Boyle and the Township Council last fall.
"I knew the town didn't have the money to hire someone from the outside," Sgro said. "Although we run pretty well, I saw some areas where we need to improve our operations. I'm here five days a week. I see what goes on. I know what needs to be done. The mayor and council all have full-time jobs. They can't be here during the day to make sure things get done."
Volunteering comes easy to Sgro, who has been on the Pine Beach police force for 22 years. He was sworn in as chief in 2008, when he replaced longtime chief Glenn Jones.
Sgro was part of the work crew that repaired the piers at Henley and New Jersey avenues. The project was a town-wide project, he said."I hate to describe it as a Mayberry, not that there's anything wrong with a Mayberry," Sgro said in an interview in his office earlier this week. "It's a quaint small town. Everybody knows everybody. People are just willing to pitch in."
The Borough Council appointed Sgro as municipal administrator at the Feb. 15 council meeting.
"For a number of years, the need for an administrator was always in the back of my mind, but the added costs of an additional salary made it impossible," Boyle said. "Only the chief’s willingness to take on the job gratis allowed us to take this step."
Sgro, who lives in town with his wife, Teri, and three children, presides over a police department of seven. That's counting him. He makes roughly $96,000 a year as police chief, one of the lowest paid police chiefs in Ocean County. When he negotiated his chief's contract with the governing body, he capped his sick day payout at $15,000, before it became state-mandated.
"When I became chief, I took a lot of fluff out of the contract," he said. "I won't hide anything. What you see is what you get. I thought it was the right think to do. I can put my head on the pillow at night and sleep in good conscience."
Sgro won't be heading upstairs to put on his administrator's hat. "I can do everything out of here," he said, thumping his desk with his hand. "I don't need to be any place else. I have a Nextel."
Sgro's offer to work for free as administrator will ease operations in the Borough Clerk's office. Pine Beach officials reluctantly cut one full-time position last month to save $30,000. The move meant Borough Hall hours had to be shortened to 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays.
"I'm here," he said. "Who better to be able to organize and set this up than somebody who is here and sees it all? There is really no other way to go. We owe it to the residents in town to make sure we are running our operations as efficiently as we can."
Sgro has been performing administrator duties unofficially since January, Councilman Barry Weick said.
"The borough has been good to me over the years and I feel like I can give something back in return," Sgro said. "Not everything needs to be about financial compensation. When I hear positive feedback from the governing body and our residents, that is a reward in itself. Things like this are what make small towns like ours special. It's just what we do. We all work together and will always go the extra mile to make things work.”