Following last month’s , city councilors will review a proposed procedure for approving retirement agreements for municipal employees.
The City Council unanimously agreed Monday to send an ordinance regarding guidelines for the appropriation of retirement funds and benefits to the Administration Committee. The document was prepared by Law Director Jeff Londregan at the request of Mayor Daryl Finizio earlier this month.
Under the ordinance, no retirement agreement appropriating any additional funds beyond collective bargaining or unaffiliated employment agreements, including health care coverage, may be negotiated without first receiving approval from the council for the additional expenditures. The ordinance would also have the law director review all retirement agreements for “correctness and consistency” with the ordinance. The conditions would have to be met before a retirement agreement can be signed between the employee and mayor.
Earlier this year, former captains William Dittman and Michael Lacey of the while Finizio decided . The city agreed to pay accrued compensatory, vacation, holiday, and sick time and include the men and their families on a municipal retirement plan for several years. The agreements represented $36,571.31 over regular retirement benefits due to Dittman and $198,069.69 and $15,000 above normal benefits for Lacey and Segar, respectively.
The council did not approve the additional funds in . Dittman and Lacey subsequently , accusing the city of breach of contract and other charges. The council voted 5-1 last month to settle the lawsuits by honoring the agreements and paying nominal attorneys’ fees after Finizio warned that the city’s insurer, CIRMA, was in favor of settlement and would rescind insurance coverage for the city if the case went to trial in Dittman’s case.
Dittman has since been hired as chief of the Mashantucket Tribal Police Force while Lacey has become an investigator conducting federal background checks, according to the New London Police Union.
In a letter urging settlement of the cases, Finizio accepted responsibility for the commencement of litigation and associated costs and said he should have done a more thorough job of reviewing the procedures of approving the retirement agreements. He has also recommended that the council consider several revisions to the retirement benefit process, including reducing the number of compensatory days that can be carried over to a new year, eliminating mayoral discretion in determining compensatory time limits for police and fire chiefs when they leave city employment, and including a paragraph in all separation agreements stating that the agreement does not become valid until approved by the council.
Councilor John Maynard, who chairs the Administration Committee, said he considered the proposal a positive step in improving the relationship between the administration and council. He said he wanted to get a better sense of the different retirement agreements offered to municipal employees.
“I’d like to know everything department by department what the benefits are, because New London has, by my understanding, 10 to 15 different kinds of retirement packages,” said Maynard.