FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Paul Hiller’s retirement settlement with Fairfield and its estimated added cost of more than $127,000 now have an official government approval.
The Board of Selectmen voted to approve the terms of the former Chief Fiscal Officer’s resignation by a party-line vote Wednesday evening.
The terms of the agreement have been public since before Hiller officially stepped down as CFO on Sept. 13. First Selectman Michael Tetreau brought a breakdown of the cost of his retirement package to the Board of Finance Tuesday night.
Hiller will receive $31,046 for back vacation pay, a $33,632 severance, and $1,000 in deferred compensation when he leaves. His salary will also be raised on his last day to increase his pension payments, which will cost the town an extra $52,090, according to actuarial calculation. The estimated legal fees of $10,000 bring the total cost to the town’s taxpayers to $127,768.
Selectman Kevin Kiley argued that there were more costs than that to consider, such as the cost of Hiller’s salary through next spring. Hiller is still a town employee through at least the end of the year and could be as late as June 30, 2013. His job title was changed to “manager of financial services” when he resigned last month.
His salary will not change before Dec. 31, and at the start of the year he will be paid a salary of $110,000 per year. If he takes a new job elsewhere, Fairfield will have to pay the difference between his new salary and the $110,000 until June 30.
“What we’re having here is a philosophical difference of how to look at this,” said Kiley, who called for the vote last month.
Kiley also thought that there might be an opportunity cost of losing work while Hiller works part-time. But Tetreau stressed that Hiller’s work will get done and that his salary is not an added cost.
“We’re committed to the same dollar that we were before the settlement agreement,” Tetreau said. “We’re committed to the same work output and work product before and after the settlement agreement, so we’re going to get that work done one way or another.”
Town Attorney Stan Lesser and private labor attorney Floyd Dugas have said in the past that Tetreau had the authority to replace Hiller as CFO and negotiate his retirement settlement without approval from other elected officials. But Kiley called for a vote on the contract anyway at the last Board of Selectmen meeting.
On Wednesday the Board upheld the contract by a 2-1 vote. Tetreau and fellow Democrat Cristin McCarthy Vahey voted to approve it, while Kiley, a Republican, voted against the deal.
The board did not call for public comment on the issue at Wednesday’s meeting, despite a question after the vote from a citizen in the audience. Tetreau said this was because “we’ve gone through several hours” of talk about the issues at previous meetings.