Selectman Kevin Kiley refused to vote to adjourn Wednesday's Board of Selectmen meeting, insisting that instead he wanted to continue the discussion of what happened to the town's chief fiscal officer who was forced to leave his job last month.
"I don't see this as a philosophical discussion, I don't see this as a done deal," Kiley said, attempting to make a motion to have the board formally review and approve the separation agreement signed by Paul Hiller, who had been the fiscal officer the last 13 years, and First Selectman Michael Tetreau in August.
The agreement changes Hiller's position from chief fiscal officer to manager of financial services, with a minimum work week of two days a week. It bumps up his salary on his last day -- June 30, 2103 -- for pension purposes and pays him for 60 unused vacation days and gives him 13 weeks of severance pay.
Tetreau ruled Kiley's motion out of order. "You asked for time to comment," Tetreau said. "This is not something appropriate to come before the board."
"I'm allowed to make a motion," Kiley responded.
"Mr. Kiley, I ruled it out of order," Tetreau said.
Kiley reiterated statements made the previous night at a Board of Finance meeting that he does not believe Tetreau has the right to sign the settlement without Board of Selectmen approval. He also cited concerns about the manner in which Hiller's departure was handled.
Hiller was abruptly placed on administrative leave in July, and after two weeks with no comment forthcoming from Tetreau, he returned and Tetreau issued a press release announcing Hiller's "resignation." Tetreau released the settlement agreement the same morning he left on the country on vacation.
"I do think the Board of Selectmen was pushed out of the process," Kiley said, adding he remains concerned that the work of the Finance Department will be able to proceed in an efficient manner. "There's a lot of work that goes through there."
To have a long-time, trusted employee such as Hiller treated the way he was, Kiley said, is damaging to the morale of all town employees, but particularly those in the finance office. "Their staff loses a part of them," he said. "It does have a lasting impact on the morale, commitment and enthusiasm. I think we have a lot of work to do in that area to improve the morale."
Tetreau said whenever a major change is made, it can have widespread effects, but he said the chief fiscal officer is appointed by the first selectman and is responsible to the first selectman. "I tried to find a balance in making this change," he said," and having a smooth transition."
Tetreau's chief of staff, Robert Mayer, is acting fiscal officer, and will also be continuing his chief of staff duties. He is not receiving any additional salary, Tetreau said, adding that a search committee will be formed to find a new fiscal officer.
Selectman Cristin McCarthy Vahey, a Democrat like Tetreau, said she was not privy to any of the events leading to Hiller's negotiated departure. "At this point, I think we've made an agreement we have to honor," she said.