Toms River Municipal Clerk Submits Resignation

TOMS RIVER, NJ — Toms River Township will be replacing its municipal clerk, after Michael Cruoglio submitted his resignation this week.

Cruoglio confirmed to Patch Wednesday afternoon that he is resigning as of July 19. He would not comment further.

There is a special meeting of the Township Council set for 3 p.m. on Monday, July 15, according to the township website.

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Cruoglio, who was appointed the municipal clerk at the Jan. 3, 2023, reorganization meeting, had about 18 months remaining on his three-year term, and was earning a salary of $101,999 in 2024.

He is the latest in a string of resignations from Toms River Township’s municipal offices since Mayor Daniel Rodrick took office on Jan. 1, 2024.

Find out what's happening in Toms Riverwith free, real-time updates from Patch.

A request for comment emailed to Rodrick, Business Administrator Jonathan Salonis and township attorney Peter Pascarella was not answered.

It’s not known who will replace Cruoglio. Jacklyn DePascale, the deputy municipal clerk, resigned at the end of March. Her replacement, whose name was not immediately available Wednesday, has only been in place a short time.

As municipal clerk, Cruoglio has extensive duties overseeing the township’s record-keeping, and has responsibility for maintaining council meeting agendas and minutes along with fulfilling Open Public Records Act requests. Council meetings have routinely turned into shouting matches and arguments, with Cruoglio regularly caught in the middle of arguments between council members and Rodrick or between the council members themselves.

He also had to review two petitions from residents seeking to overturn ordinances approved by the township council — one eliminating two captains’ positions from the police department roster, the second seeking to halt the lease of the township’s animal shelter building to Ocean County.

Cruoglio certified both petitions as having been signed by the minimum number of voters needed — 3,079, which is 15 percent of the number of registered Toms River voters who cast ballots in November 2023. The certifications require the township council to take action to rescind the ordinance or the matter must be put to the voters, under state law.

In the case of the police roster ordinance, the council rescinded the ordinance. Rodrick at the time questioned the certification and said the township could have had the petitions thrown out but chose not to spend the legal fees to fight it.

In response to the certification of the animal shelter recall petition, Rodrick ordered the shelter emptied and its employees laid off. He continues to reject statements that he has closed the shelter in spite of the fact that the building sits empty and will for the foreseeable future.

Details of the county’s potential operations of the building have not been finalized, and renovations are undertaken. Ocean County officials have said they would add dog runs to the building among other changes.

Since Rodrick took office, there have been more than 70 employees who have left the township positions.

Several key staffers in the township’s administration have resigned: Scott Tirella and Loring Dunton, both Rodrick appointees, resigned as of Jan. 30. Judith Tutela, the township’s chief financial officer, resigned March 22.

Those departures have resulted in Salonis being appointed to serve as chief financial officer in addition to his duties as business administrator, to which he was promoted after initially being appointed recreation director.

Township engineer Wendy A. Birkhead also resigned in mid-March, and the township has been using its engineering pool. A new engineer is anticipated to be appointed shortly, Rodrick said in a June 27 telephone conversation with Patch. That appointee will be tasked with reviewing the proposals on the rebid package of repairs for the township’s parking garage on Water Street.

Personnel manager Tara Lewczak resigned in mid-May, as did Rodrick’s administrative assistant, Grace Piscopo.

It’s unclear how many of the vacancies have been filled. A new recreation director was mentioned in passing at the June 26 township council meeting but the council has not yet been asked to approve the hiring.

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