For years, the town's Finance Department had processed the payroll for the Fairfield Housing Authority, with the housing agency regularly reimbursing the town for the salary payments.

Last December, the authority opted to switch to a private payroll company, according to town Fiscal Officer Paul Hiller. The only problem, he said, is that the agency still has not reimbursed the town for payroll outlays since last August.

The bill totals $165,000, Hiller told the Board of Selectmen on Wednesday.

"What we're looking to do is come up with a payment plan," said Carol Landsman, chairwoman of the authority. "I think this is a high-priority item."

Landsman said housing authority recently brought a new accountant on board and would like to consult with him before making any repayment proposals. She said, however, that she believes that can be accomplished before the end of the month.

"At some point I'm going to want some background information on how we got to this point," Selectman James Walsh said.

According to Hiller, no one seems to know exactly when the payroll arrangement began with the housing authority -- a quasi-independent agency -- but said it may have been during Jacquelyn C. Durrell's tenure as first selectman from 1983-93, or possibly even before that.

Interim Selectman Michael Tetreau suggested the board postpone discussion in order to allow the housing authority officials to meet with their accountant, as well as Hiller.

"I'd like to give them the opportunity to work with Mr. Hiller," Tetreau said. "The Fairfield Housing Authority obviously does good work for our town."

The board agreed to postpone any discussion until August.