Lou Amoruso (Photo: Toms River Township)
Lou Amoruso (Photo: Toms River Township)

Toms River promoted its public works director and assistant business administrator, who had been working as the BA in an acting capacity for several months, to its permanent business administrator this week.

Lou Amoruso will replace Don Guardian, the former Republican mayor of Atlantic City, who had held the Toms River job since his appointment by former mayor Thomas Kelaher in 2018. Guardian had been on sick leave since June, and expressed his desire to return to his job recently, however Mayor Maurice “Mo” Hill said he told Guardian the town had “decided to move in another direction.”

According to a township spokeswoman, Amoruso will earn $177,012 in his new position, a combination of a base salary of $162,275, longevity pay of $9,736, and an extra $5,000 provided as an incentive to him for forgoing taking township health benefits.

Toms River officials sang the praises of Amoruso at a council meeting Tuesday night, saying he helped lead the township through its response to Superstorm Sandy in 2012 as head of public works, then the coronavirus pandemic while serving as acting business administrator during Guardian’s sick leave.

“I think over these last three months, it has been Lou’s interview,” said Hill. “I’m impressed because we’re accomplishing things, things are being done and nothing is left open. He’s had a three month, on-the-job interview.”

Guardian’s appointment technically expired after the term of the mayor who appointed him, Kelaher, expired. Kelaher did not seek re-election and was succeeded by Hill, who kept him on the job for six months before he requested leave for an illness. Amoruso took the lead on several projects during that time frame.

Hill said Amoruso helped pare down the number of confidential employees from the township’s payroll earlier this year and successfully negotiated, at the height of the coronavirus crisis, furloughs with employees who were represented by a labor union that normally would not allow them.

“The savings to the township was $900,000,” said Hill. “We were highlighted by a number of agencies in the state as to how we handled the pandemic.”

Council President Maria Maruca heavily endorsed the appointment from the dais. The business administrator is appointed by the mayor, but requires a consent vote from the council. She said she was especially impressed with his leadership after Sandy struck almost eight years ago.

“When you had to pull yourself up from your bootstraps after that storm, I was just glad Mr. Amoruso was there to help,” said Maruca. “He and his staff in public works were out rescuing people in front loaders in the Silverton section. It took a lot to rebuild … and Lou was a vital part of that. He’s never missed a beat.”

The council members present at the meeting unanimously approved the appointment.