While the Board of Selectmen moved to vote on the resignation agreement between First Selectman Michael Tetreau and former fiscal officer Paul Hiller, the action will likely amount to nothing.
Following a discussion of the agreement between Tetreau and selectmen Kevin Kiley and Cristin McCarthy Vahey, Kiley moved to add a vote on the contract to the board's Oct. 3 meeting.
"Good government would have dictated that this contract come before this board," Kiley said.
But Town Attorney Stanton Lesser warned that, in his legal opinion, a vote could be a waste of time.
"It's simply, in my view, that this is not something the board has jurisdiction over," Lesser said. "I think it's a valid and binding agreement and I don't think you have a right to void it."
Lesser added that he agreed with the legal opinion of Attorney Floyd Dugas, who was hired as outside counsel to draft the agreement between Hiller (whose resignation was effective Sept. 15) and Tetreau.
According to Dugas, Fairfield's town charter gives the First Selectman sole authority to appoint, terminate, and set the terms of employment for the town's Chief Fiscal Officer.
Still, Kiley maintained his motion to add the vote to the agenda and postpone it until the Oct. 3 meeting with the hope that new information would be shared with him and McCarthy Vahey before Oct. 3. McCarthy Vahey seconded his motion.
"To me, it's more important to find out if the town has been managed property and that the board informed, engaged, and brought into the process," Kiley said.
Tetreau told the board all of the information they could legally know was already in front of them, given the agreement's non-disparagement and confidentiality clauses that closed off public discussion of personnel matters.
"Given the angst and turmoil and questions that came of this agreement, I can't see doing another one of these types of contracts in the future," Tetreau said.
Though McCarthy Vahey voted in favor of putting the contract on the Oct. 3 agenda, she said she's spoken with attorneys around town who agreed with Lesser's opinion -- that the release and settlement pact is "enforceable, we are bound by as a town."
But she took issue with the salary increase Hiller will receive as part of the contract before he begins to collect pension from the town.
"This is a practice that should not be continued," she said, adding that they could review the charter as a start to discontinuing the policy.
The pension bump was in accordance with the town's department head benefit and early retirement program, Tetreau said.
"That's what we followed, that's how we operate," he added. "The benefits are consistent with what other department heads leaving due to an agreement, not voluntarily."
Kiley countered. "Even if you could defend it's legal, it's still not right," he said of the entire agreement and the events leading up to it.
"It's not the right way to run your town, your business, or treat your people."