Fairfield selectmen approve DPW audit, question HR knowledge of investigation
FAIRFIELD — The Board of Selectmen discussed investigations into the mismanagement of the Public Works pile at their Wednesday meeting.
In addition to approving an independent audit of the Department of Public Works, the Selectmen pressed town personnel on what they knew over the course of the criminal investigation.
The Board of Selectmen approved up to $20,000 of funding for an independent audit of Department of Public Works transactions.
The town will engage independent auditor PFK O’Connor Davies to review the purchases, transactions and contracts of DPW.
In approving the audit, Selectman Chris Tymniak emphasized that the independent auditors should have access to all information and documents necessary to complete their review.
“I want to stress the word independent,” Tymniak said.
Chief Fiscal Officer Bob Mayer responded that the Finance Department would be completely transparent with auditors, as they always have been.
“No town body or commission has ever not received anything they’ve requested from my office,” Mayer said.
The Selectmen also questioned Human Resources Director Emmet Hibson about his knowledge over the course of the criminal investigation.
Hibson said he was given a draft of the arrest warrant in December 2018 to review from a human resources perspective.
At the time, he said, the preliminary warrant only discussed Scott Bartlett, with no mention of Joe Michelangelo or any public safety concerns. He said those matters were added over the next six months of investigation.
“It was nothing related to contaminants, dumping, hazardous waste,” Hibson said. “It had to do simply with the relationship between the town, an individual and Julian.”
At that point, Hibson said, he did not find enough cause for employment intervention. He said he has not had any communication with the police regarding the investigation since December 2018.
Over the course of the discussion, Selectmen Bateson and Tymniak expressed frustration with First Selectman Mike Tetreau for failing to recognize the problem years ago and keeping them out of decision-making process.
“I think if we were transparent from the beginning, we wouldn’t be in as bad a situation as we are now,” Tymniak said.
Bateson requested that the Board of Selectmen as a whole, rather than the First Selectman’s office, take a leadership role in conducting an internal investigation of DPW.