As more information on New London’s financial situation came before the City Council on Monday, councilors made final votes on two requests for funding from Mayor Daryl Finizio.
The council voted 6-1 to approve an appropriation ordinance for prorated funding for the current fiscal year to pay for three new positions established in the city administration. A vote on whether to approve appropriation ordinances for the severance and retirement agreements of three police administrators failed in a 3-3 vote.
The votes were taken following a Finance Committee meeting earlier in the day. Finance Director Jeffrey Smith said that New London is facing an estimated $3 million shortfall in the 2012 fiscal year and is expected to overspend its expenditures by $900,000. Smith said the city will be able to keep expenditures in line with $1,038,000 in savings for the fiscal year.
The funding request for the newly established positions asked the council to approve a total of $125,144.22 in prorated wages for the director of development and planning, office administrator and principal secretary, and deputy fire chief.
Finizio named Kristin Havrila Clarke to the director of development and planning position at a $90,000 annual salary, and Tammy Daugherty to the office administrator and principal secretary position at a $70,000 salary. The deputy fire chief position has a proposed $87,500 salary but remains vacant.
Finizio said he was informed by Personnel Coordinator Bernadette Welch, Law Director Jeffrey Londregan, and former City Manager Denise Rose that the positions could be filled. He said Clarke’s position can be funded through a currently vacant position in the as well as line item transfers from the , while the deputy fire chief can be funded by funds available in the 's payroll account due to recent resignations. The city budgeted $45,000 for Daugherty’s position, and Finizio said the raise was covered by fund transfers from other salaries in the mayor's administration.
The request , but only passed the full council in a 4-3 vote on its and readings following news that the city could be facing a . Councilors opposed to the proposal said the prior council had previously voted down the deputy chief and director of development of planning positions in crafting the 2012 fiscal year budget. Councilors in favor of the proposal said denying the funds would be unfairly terminating two employees who were hired in good faith.
President Michael Passero and Councilor Marie Friess-McSparran changed their votes to support the appropriation in the final reading. Passero said he respected the administration’s work to balance the expenditures in the current fiscal year and would support the measure.
Councilor Adam Sprecace was the sole vote against the appropriation. Sprecace said he was concerned with the projected revenue shortfall and asked to vote on funding for each position individually.
“This is the approval of three positions within the city administration that were not budgeted for,” said Sprecace.
Londregan said the positions could not be voted on separately in the final vote because no attempt had been made to separate the appropriations at the prior readings.
Last month, the council with former Deputy Chief Marshall Segar and Captains William Dittman and Michael Lacey of the . The matter returned to the council when Londregan presented them with .
Londregan said the Feb. 7 rejection only invalidates “extra money” outside of normal severance and retirement agreements. He said this would amount to $21,000 for Segar, $36,571.31 for Dittman, and $198,069.69 for Lacey. Londregan also said the costs related to the captains would only be realized if their positions are filled within the current fiscal year, as they were budgeted for by the prior council.
Sprecace said he remained concerned with the potential impact of the appropriations on the budget. He said the settlements provide funds not ordinarily paid out at retirement, including sick and compensatory time, and argued that the settlements would represent an approximately $435,000 cost to the city.
“I can’t in good conscience approve that after the fact when the City Council was not asked to approve that before the fact,” he said.
Passero, who formerly was against the settlements, said he would “reluctantly” support them. He said he felt the departures have contributed to the projected deficit, but that the captains were eligible to retire.
“I think what we’re looking at here, from my point of view, is agreements that should have been presented to the council,” he said.
Passero, along with Council President Pro Tempore Wade Hyslop and Councilor Donald Macrino, were in favor of the settlements. Councilors Marie-Friess McSparran, John Maynard, and Sprecace were opposed. Councilor Anthony Nolan, a police officer, recused himself from the vote.