A new proposal by Mayor Daryl Finizio’s administration to fund the severance and retirement agreements for three administrators failed in a tie vote on Tuesday.
The City Council split 3-3 in a proposal to transfer $76,640 from an unused capital projects fund to go toward the agreements. The vote was taken after the council amended the initial proposal to transfer $400,000 from the fund to four different areas. The total suggested transfer included $15,000 to police overtime for special events and $10,000 to the payroll for the mayor’s executive assistant, with the remaining $298,360 going into general fund contingency.
The council unanimously voted against the police overtime transfer, approved the transfer to payroll in a 4-3 vote, and voted against the transfer to contingency 3-4.
Councilor John Maynard said he opposed voting on the request as a single item, saying the request covered several different areas. He said a single vote would also exclude Councilor Anthony Nolan, who recused himself since he is employed as a police officer, from the areas not related to the retirements.
“I have a problem with the way we lump things together for a vote,” said Maynard.
Council President Pro Tempore Wade Hyslop motioned to table the item after Maynard amended it to hold four separate votes. Hyslop’s motion failed 3-3, while Maynard’s amendment passed 5-1.
Maynard also sought to separate the issue of funding each agreement separately. Maynard has said he supports the severance agreement for former Deputy Chief Marshall Segar, but opposed the agreements for former Captains William Dittman and Michael Lacey since they had not been negotiated with the police union and were non-binding.
Council President Michael Passero said he was unsure if such further separation could take place, and Hyslop said this was the reason he had sought to table the item. Maynard’s second amendment failed 2-4.
Councilor Marie Friess-McSparran questioned whether approval of the funds would affect litigation against the city related to the retirements. Dittman has sued the city, and Todd Lynch, president of the New London Police Union, has also filed a suit charging Ackley with retaliatory acts and violations of his constitutional rights.
Passero said he was reluctant to support the agreements, but wanted to resolve the matter.
“I don’t believe any of them were ready to retire,” he said. “I don’t believe the expense should have been included in this difficult time. However, the mistake’s been made.”
Councilor Adam Sprecace questioned why the question was again appearing on the agenda. The council . Law Director Jeff Londregan said this outside the normal retirement agreements, and that this amounted to $21,000 for Segar, $36,571.31 for Dittman, and $198,069.69 for Lacey. A March 6 vote on approving an appropriation ordinance for the agreements .
Both Hyslop and Sprecace questioned whether the transfer of funds for special events overtime was a recurring item.
Sprecace asked whether the request to transfer $10,000 to the payroll for Finizio’s executive assistant, Zak Leavy, was to give Leavy a raise. Maynard said Leavy’s salary was decreased by $10,000 as part of a in the mayor’s office, but that the funds still needed to be appropriated.
Passero said the transfer represented a one-time revenue, but felt the funds could be better used to shore up the general fund. He said the latest report from Finance Director Jeff Smith indicates the city is still facing about $3 million in revenue shortfalls for the 2012 fiscal year on top of an approximately $1.3 million deficit from the 2011 fiscal year.
The council voted 4-3 to amend the requested funds for the general fund contingency to $390,000 due to the rejection of two transfers and language in the request saying the balance of the capital projects fund not appropriated in other areas should go toward contingency. Sprecace said he felt the council would have less control over what the funds in the contingency are used for.
“I think it is our Charter responsibility to see how this money is spent, and I think we’re relinquishing a bit of that control right now,” he said.
In a separate agenda item, the council voted 6-1 to approve the remaining 2012 fiscal year budget increases. The item, which was tabled on Feb. 21, include renovations; separation agreements for the former city clerk, assistant city clerk, and assessor; consulting fees for the former city clerk; the establishment of the executive assistant to the mayor position; and the salary difference between the current and previous finance directors.
Sprecace was the sole vote against the item, and also the only supporter of an amendment he proposed to add language saying the pensions of the departed employees would not be affected if the funding was rejected.
City Council Transfer Votes
- Motion to table transfer request (3-3): Friess-McSparran, Maynard, Sprecace opposed; Hyslop, Councilor Donald Macrino, Passero in favor; Nolan recused
- Amendment to separate transfer request into four separate votes (5-1): Friess-McSparran, Macrino, Maynard, Passero, Sprecace in favor; Hyslop opposed; Nolan recused
- Amendment to separate $76,640 retirement/severance agreement transfer into individual votes (2-4): Hyslop, Macrino, Passero, Sprecace against; Friess-McSparran, Maynard for; Nolan recused
- Vote on transferring $76,640 to fund police retirements/severance (3-3): Friess-McSparran, Maynard, Sprecace opposed; Hyslop, Macrino, Passero in favor; Nolan recused
- Vote on transferring $15,000 for special events overtime (0-6): Friess-McSparran, Hyslop, Macrino, Maynard, Passero, Sprecace opposed; Nolan recused
- Vote on transferring $10,000 to the mayor’s payroll (4-3): Hyslop, Macrino, Maynard, and Nolan in favor; Friess-McSparran, Passero, Sprecace against
- Vote on transferring $390,000 to general fund contingency: Friess-McSparran, Macrino, Maynard, Sprecace against; Hyslop, Nolan, Passero in favor
Clarification: The article originally reported that Londregan said Segar and Lacey have filed intent to sue letters. The city clerk has not received such letters, and Londregan said he was likely referring to the complaint and lawsuit filed by Lynch.