DeFilippo defends UCIA work, salary against Finance Board criticism

TRENTON – The executive director of the Union County Improvement Authority on Wednesday rejected accusations leveled at her earlier by the head of the Local Finance Board.

The board deferred action on a $14 million college project in Cranford today until UCIA executives respond to concerns raised about salary, staffing, and other issues.

“I was shocked’’ at what happened this morning, UCIA Executive Director Charlotte DeFilippo said. “We had no warning or any question from the Local Finance Board,” but she said she welcomed the chance offered by the board to meet with them and answer their concerns.

Among other things, board Chairman Thomas Neff questioned her $160,000 salary and staff of two, comparing it to other improvement authorities whose executive directors earn less but supervise larger staffs.

“We work extremely hard on the projects we do,” said DeFilippo, who added “We save more than $20 million or $30 million for our clients,’’ which are municipalities and the county. The project that was deferred today is to build a new wing at the county college.

And she defended her salary.

“I take my job very seriously,” she said. “We don’t spend a dime more than we have to.  I have 33 years in government. They are paying me for what I know as well as what I do.”

She said she works at home because she relies on an electric cart to get around, and does not get benefits that are different than what others in county government receive.

She said that as a former Local Finance Board member herself, she knows that accountability is important.

Considering that she is also head of the Union County Democratic Party, and that Neff is a member of Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s administration, she was asked if she believed politics was involved.

“I would be appalled if it came to be that this is political,’’ she said.

Rather, she said she welcomed the chance to meet at some point with the board to answer their concerns.

Earlier story:

Finance Board takes aim at improvement authorities

DeFilippo defends UCIA work, salary against Finance Board criticism