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Sayegh may replace Paterson finance director

Mayor Andre Sayegh may be looking to replace finance director Marge Cherone. His administration began taking applications on September 1 to hire a chief finance officer.

Sayegh did not respond to a call for comment for this story on Tuesday.

Cherone, who has extensive experience in municipal finances, was hired by mayor Jose “Joey” Torres in October 2016. She has served four years as chief finance officer and would be granted tenure upon reappointment under state law.

A chief finance officer granted tenure cannot be removed without “just cause and then only after a public hearing upon a written complaint setting forth the charge or charges against” her.

Cherone was not new to Paterson. She served as the finance director of the city from 1989-1997 and then again from 2002-2004.

Torres initially brought her in as budget officer from West New York. She was promoted to the finance director’s post eight months later.

Cherone will likely be able to remain in the Sayegh administration as budget officer when someone else assumes the finance director post.

Cherone declined to comment on Tuesday afternoon.

Council president Flavio Rivera said it’s an administrative decision.

Officials said Sayegh’s business administrator Kathleen Long and Cherone have had a testy relationship. Both had tough exchanges during the bungled sewer reforms that led to massive rate increases for homeowners and businesses, according to sources.

Sayegh made Long the point-person for the sewer reforms.

The Sayegh administration is accepting applications for the finance director job through September 18. Advertised salary is $140,000. Cherone’s salary as finance director is $148,500, according to municipal records.

Sayegh, who has been compared to Donald Trump in his running of the municipal government, has had high personnel turnover. His former business administrator Vaughn McKoy and law director Khalifah Shabazz left the administration last year. He ousted popular and well-liked police chief Troy Oswald.

Sayegh had to hire a new chief of staff, Della Fischer, after the previous one, Long, was promoted to business administrator. He also had to hire a new health and human services director, Oshin Castillo, after health officer Paul Persaud decided to step back from the post.

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