For the second time this year, one of the town's department heads appears to be on an unscheduled "vacation" veiled in secrecy.

This time, the official absent without explanation is the town's chief fiscal officer, Paul Hiller.

The reason for Hiller's absence, however, is known only to First Selectman Michael Tetreau and his administrators. Since last week, all have refused comment on the matter.

According to employees at Sullivan-Independence Hall, Hiller was escorted out of the building last week by Human Resources Director Mary Carroll Mirylees. Mirylees later said that is an inaccurate characterization of what happened, but refused to elaborate.

Finance Department employees have been told Hiller, who has led the department for more than 12 years, is on vacation and all financial questions are being referred to Robert Mayer, Tetreau's chief of staff.

At Monday's Representative Town Meeting, Majority Leader David Becker, R-1, asked Tetreau point blank about Hiller's status and Tetreau replied only that he would not comment on personnel issues.

Becker replied, "I think that quite possibly sums it all up."

Becker said that he is "now getting contacted by reporters and constituents, asking about the status of the chief fiscal office of this town. It certainly caught me by surprise." He said what he has heard "is a little concerning," and added at the very least, he feels that Tetreau should make Hiller's status known.

Becker compared the administration's silence regarding Hiller to its handling of controversy surrounding Fire Chief Richard Felner earlier this year. Felner was placed on administrative leave while an independent investigation was conducted into claims that he had slapped a subordinate.

During -- and since -- that investigation, Tetreau declined to make any comment on the chief's status, even after the investigation arranged by the town found the incident had likely occurred or when Felner was allowed to return to work.

According to sources, Hiller, who serves at the first selectman's pleasure, has been placed on administrative leave, although the reason is unclear.

Attempts to contact Hiller at home were unsuccessful.

Hiller recently shepherded the town through a bond sale that garnered the town historic low interest rates, and in the last two months, the town's top AAA bond rating has been reaffirmed by all three credit-rating agencies.

Hiller, a Republican who once unsuccessfully sought the GOP first selectman nomination, was appointed fiscal officer by then-Selectman Kenneth Flatto, a Democrat. He had been a member of the Board of Finance, and its chairman, for many years.

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