By Steve Plunkett

Seven weeks after her promotion was announced, it’s a done deal: Linda Stumpf is Manalapan’s town manager.
When town commissioners fired Thomas Heck on Oct. 28 they elevated Stumpf from finance director to interim manager until she and Mayor Kelly Gottlieb could negotiate an employment contract. But the proposal they devised was pulled from the November agenda after Stumpf talked separately with commissioners.
After a series of one-on-one conferences, commissioners approved a revised contract at their December meeting.
“Congratulations,’’ Vice Mayor Basil Diamond told Stumpf. “You can strike ‘interim’ from your title.’’
Stumpf, who has worked for the town for eight years, will be paid $105,000 a year through Oct. 1, 2013. The initial proposal listed a $109,980 salary.
Also, she will not be entitled to severance pay for six months. If she is fired after June 14 but before Oct. 1, she will get three months’ severance, rising after Oct. 1 to four months, to five months in October 2012 and six months in October 2013.
The initial proposal would have allowed Stumpf to resume her job as finance director if she or the commission requested it. If she were fired within a year of reverting, she would have received three months’ severance.
Commissioners were not completely happy with the final contract.
“I fear that we’re not paying her enough,’’ Commissioner William Bernstein said. But Mayor Pro Tem Robert Evans asked and Stumpf replied that she was satisfied with the terms.
“I think the salary is too high,’’ Commissioner Louis DeStefano said. “But having stated that, I like Linda’s work product, I think she’s going to be a terrific town manager, and even though my vote is going to be no, it’s on the financial end, not on her qualifications or the type of job I think she can do.’’
Heck was paid $123,000 a year during his five-month tenure. Diamond wanted to use the difference between Heck’s and Stumpf’s pay for other town expenses, but Stumpf said that would not cover much.
“Even though there is a substantial savings from Mr. Heck’s salary, we did pay six months’ severance when he left,’’ she said. “I did a payout for $60,000 to him when he left. So it did eat up some of any surplus there may be.’’
As finance director Stumpf was paid $78,000 a year. She was given an additional 12 percent while she was interim town manager.
Before coming to Manalapan, Stumpf was the 25-hour-a-week town manager of Mangonia Park for two years. She also worked for Palm Beach Shores for 12 years, starting as a part-time bookkeeper and finishing with a three-year stint as town administrator.   
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