East Hampton Village Board has chosen its next Village Administrator.
Rebecca Molinaro will be the first new appointed leader of the village in nearly three decades, replacing Larry Cantwell who is retiring from the position he has held for 30 years.
"We're very excited and I think all things considered, it's going to be a wonderful new addition to the village," Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach said of Molinaro, who has been the Village of Westhampton clerk and chief financial officer for three years.
Molinaro will receive a salary of $95,000 per year — half of Cantwell's current salary. She will begin May 1, so that she can finish finish Westhampton's budget process. "They are just starting their budget cycle — they are a few months ahead of us," Rickenbach said.
"I have enjoyed my time with the Village of Westhampton Beach and I look forward to a new chapter with East Hampton," said Molinaro.
Cantwell will remain with East Hampton Village through the end of the village's fiscal year, retiring in late July, to help ensure the transition is a smooth one.
She also will move to the East Hampton area, one of the village board's requirements, Cantwell said.
Molinaro was among nine candidates for the postion, he said, adding that "each of them brought something to the table."
Cantwell sat in on the interviews, and participated in the selection process, on the request of the board, he said.
"I've worked with Becky for 13 years, starting when she first worked for Fred Thiele," he said. Molinaro, who has a master's degree from SUNY Stony Brook, previously served as an executive assistant to New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., I-Sag Harbor, for 10 years.
"The administrators and clerks on the East End meet once a month, we talk regularly. We exchange information and help each other," he said. "I've always found her to be professional, courteous and helpful."
Rickenbach said that he and the rest of the board were not put off by the situation in Westhampton. "We were aware of some circumstances in Westhampton Beach, but at the end of the day, it had no bearing on our decision, and we made the right decision," he said.
Molinaro is leaving Westhampton after a difficult year.
A trio of Westhampton Beach trustees voted to hire an outside attorney and extend the services of the village's auditing firm to investigate questions they have about finances, including an $22,000 overpayment of 40 village employees, including the mayor.
Molinaro acknowledged the error, which she said has been remedied, and explained that it was due to a payroll schedule. She suggested that the village move to a 24-week payroll schedule to prevent further mistakes.
Cantwell added that he understands the State Comptroller was brought in to review what he called a "payroll processing error" and that the matter seemed to be handled appropriately. "I take that kind of an error as something that could have happened to anybody," he said.
Westhampton Beach Mayor Conrad Teller, as well as Trustee Ralph Urban, have stood behind Molinaro, both praising her as recently as a meeting last Thursday.
Molinaro or Mayor Teller were not immediately available for comment.