Teaneck Manager Likely to Step Down
Deputy Would Take Over Temporarily

By Adam Lisberg, Staff Writer

The Record, December 19, 2000, p. L3

Township Manager Gary Saage is expected to announce tonight that he is closing the book on more than three decades of watching over the business of Teaneck.

Saage, a 66-year-old Teaneck resident, declined to discuss his plans before tonight's Township Council meeting. His last day of work will be Jan. 12, but he will stay on the payroll until June 1 by virtue of unused vacation time.

Helene Fall, who was hired as Saage's deputy two years ago, has been groomed to succeed him and is expected to be named acting manager when Saage leaves. She has already taken over some of the position's major responsibilities, such as preparing next year's budget and negotiating new contracts with Teaneck's labor unions.

Saage is the chief executive officer of Bergen County's most populous municipality (38,345 in 1998), overseeing a $40 million budget and a staff of 400; the heads of every municipal department report to him.

"I have a lot of praise for Gary. He's done a lot of good for this town," said Mayor Paul Ostrow. "He's firm but fair to employees, and he runs the town like a business."

Saage started working for the town in 1967 as a fiscal officer, and is known as a sharp-eyed guardian of Teaneck's funds. He resigned from the township in 1990 after a conflict with the manager at the time, but when council members fired that manager less than a year later, they asked Saage to take the post.

In addition to his $121,637 salary, Saage receives five weeks of vacation and three weeks of sick time each year. When his resignation takes effect June 1, he will be compensated for half his unused sick time.

He still works with a calculator and a ledger book. There is no computer in his office.

Under his leadership, Teaneck became one of the first self-insured communities in New Jersey, saving millions in insurance premiums; the township also carries no long-term debt. However, Saage has been criticized as an autocratic manager who created adversarial relations between municipal managers and employees.

"He's opinionated and he's stubborn, but he's willing to listen," Ostrow said.