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GOP Seeks Answers in Wake of CFO's Resignation

Republicans discussed the matter at Monday's RTC meeting. A breakdown of the agreement between the Town of Fairfield and Paul Hiller is included in the story.

Members of Fairfield's Republican party are looking for answers to many questions left in the wake of that Chief Fiscal Officer Paul Hiller will resign come Sept. 15.

The announcement followed in earlier in July and was then placed on paid administrative leave until First Selectman Michael Tetreau issued a release on the CFO's resignation.  

Other than the release, the circumstances surrounding Hiller's resignation have been kept mum by town officials.

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Scroll down for a breakdown of the general release and settlement agreement between the Town of Fairfield and CFO Paul Hiller. 

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GOP representatives and officials, feeling left in the dark, discussed the matter at Monday's Republican Town Committee (RTC) meeting.

"This is disgraceful," RTC Chair James Millington said. "People were wondering what he'd done -- to this date it appears he has done nothing."

The general release and settlement agreement signed by the Tetreau (on behalf of the town) and Hiller on July 31 does not reveal a cause for resignation. The agreement (broken down in detail below) includes information on salary and pensions, Hiller's role as "Manager of Financial Services" following his resignation as CFO and clerk of the Board of Finance, as well as his benefits package, a confidentiality clause precluding Hiller from discussing the agreement, and a non-disparagement clause between Hiller and the town.

It also includes a severance package and multiple benefits not customary in a resignation.

"Resignations don't come with severance packages. They don't come with golden parachutes," Millington said.

Additionally, the agreement came with a "glowing recommendation," as former Selectman Jim Walsh termed it," from Tetreau, extolling Hiller's accomplishments over his decades of service to the town.

"There is a glowing recommendation from Tetreau, so this is not a matter of cause," Walsh said. "This is a very costly agreement to the town of Fairfield...the taxpayers should know what they have to pay because of a personality issue."

RTC member Faith Dillon added Hiller "does not deserve to have his reputation sullied after all these years...if there is cause, he wouldn't have been offered all this."

In addition to what lead to the resignation -- whether it was a personality issue or otherwise -- questions surfaced on whether the agreement follows protocol set forth in the Town Charter.

Republican Selectman Kevin Kiley, who was appointed to replace Walsh at the beginning of July, was not made aware of any issues with Hiller until he heard from town hall employees that Hiller had been put on paid administrative leave.

Millington and other GOP members who spoke Monday believe Kiley, as well as Democratic Selectman Cristin McCarthy Vahey, should have at least been briefed in executive session by Tetreau, who left on vacation after his office announced the resignation.

Hiller's resignation also included his leave of the position of Board of Finance clerk, which he was appointed to more than 12 years ago by the Board of Finance.

Finance Board Vice Chair Rob Bellitto Jr. said that, while the charter does give the First Selectman sole authority to remove a CFO, it's under the purview of the Board of Finance to appoint or remove a clerk.

"We were stepped over a little bit," he said. The board will discuss the process of appointing another clerk at its September meeting.

As far as the budget is concerned, both Walsh and Bellitto acknowledged the monetary components of the agreement will affect both this year's and next year's budgets -- and more years to come, Walsh added, when Hiller's pension is taken into consideration.

Bellitto said that the position Hiller will take up in September -- Manager of Financial Services -- is not part of the current budget and its salary will likely have to be transferred from contingency. This means the Board of Finance will have to vote to move those funds.

"We will ask for justification," Bellitto said.

Speakers touched on Tetreau's Chief of Staff Robert Mayer's qualifications to be acting CFO, but RTM member Ed Bateson, R-3, pointed out that the process to appoint a full-time CFO has still not been made clear.

"Why aren't we doing a search for CFO?" he said. "There are people watching -- Wall Street, pension boards, health care companies -- this didn't go well for us as a municipality."

 Millington concluded the discussion by reflecting on Tetreau's November campaign for transparency and bipartisanship.

"There is nothing transparent about this," he said. "It's got to end, he's got to correct this course."

Agreement Between the Town of Fairfield and Paul Hiller

Basics

  • Hiller will "irrevocably" resign from his employment with the town on June 30, 2013
  • He will resign from his posts as Chief Fiscal Officer and the Clerk of the Board of Finance on Sept. 15, 2012.
  • He will serve as Manager of Financial Services for the Town of Fairfield following his Sept. 15 resignation until the terms of his employment end on June 30, 2013. He will work a minimum of two days per week and shall not be eligible for paid sick or vacation leave, personal leave, or paid holidays.

Salary and Pension

  • From July 31, 2012, to Dec. 31, 2012, Hiller's salary will remain at $134,591. If Hiller becomes employed elsewhere and cannot continue working for the town, he will still be paid the $134,591 salary by the town until Dec. 31.
  • From Jan. 1, 2013 until June 30, 2013, Hiller's salary will be reduced to $110,000 on an annual basis. Should he become employed in another public sector job, Fairfield will pay the difference between that job's salary and Hiller's initial $134,591 salary set in the agreement until June 30, 2013.
  • Upon the termination of Hiller's employment with the town of Fairfield on June 30, 2013, he will be eligible for benefits set forth in the 2011 benefit summary for non-union department heads.
  • His pension will be based upon a salary of $155,600.

Benefits

  • Hiller will be paid upon the termination of his employment with Fairfield an amount equal to 60 days of unused, accumulated vacation based upon a salary of $134,591.
  • He will also receive 13 weeks of severance pay based upon a salary of $134,591.
  • Prior to June 30, 2012, the town will fund the employer match into Hiller's deferred compensation plan for 2012-2013.
  • In the event of Hiller's death before July 1, 2013, these payments will be made to his wife; in the event of her death, the payments will be made to Hiller's estate.

Indemnity/Confidentiality/Non-Disparagement Clause

  • Per the terms of the agreement, Hiller "knowingly, irrevocably, and unconditionally releases and forever discharges the town from any and all grievances, claims, demands, obligations, damages, liabilities, causes of action."
  • In exchange, the town does the same for Hiller.
  • The town agrees to indemnify, or insure, Hiller regarding any claims or omissions during his course of employment with the town.
  • In turn, Hiller agrees to cooperate with "any lawsuits or administrative proceedings in which the town or Hiller is a party," and will be compensated at a rate of $675 per day if required to take part in such action.
  • Under the terms of the agreement, Hiller is bound to confidentiality regarding the events leading up to his resignation and the agreement. Information pertaining to those events not to be disclosed to any third party, with the exception of Hiller's wife, attorney, and tax provider, and those individuals must also agree to confidentiality.
  • Both parties agree they will not disparage or make negative statements about each other.
David D'Ausilio August 08, 2012 at 12:27 PM
What does Paul Hiller know that requires confidentiality? Why did Tetreau enter into this deal? Why has Tetreau not disclosed to the residents of Fairfield what happened? We need to keep pressing Tetreau for full transparency or boot him out of office! DD
Andrea Williams August 08, 2012 at 01:18 PM
There is a lot going on in the Town of Fairfield that Tetreau is keeping from the residents of Fairfield!! It will all come out soon and he will look more foolish than he does now.
S. Frank August 08, 2012 at 01:30 PM
We'll never find out why this happened and at such a high cost to taxpayers unless we taxpayers bring an action through the courts to force our leaders to testify under oath. Even then, we may never crack through the good ol boys club and get to the bottom of this. It's business as usual in Fairfield, which is screw the taxpayers.
John O'Connell August 08, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Anyone considering a health related issue, perhaps something personal and not for mass consumption?
steve sheppard August 08, 2012 at 01:41 PM
We are paying the difference between his next job and his current pay....and a boosted up pension at an inflated salary of $155,600. I thought he was a non-union employee......Very sad for Fairfield taxpayers
Micki Martin August 08, 2012 at 02:02 PM
great idea, more costly litigation
Laura August 08, 2012 at 02:14 PM
At first it did occur to me that there might be a personal issue involved here too - but not with the type of package that was given to Hiller. Are you kidding me? What is Tetreau hiding? I don't understand why everyone in town is not asking about this and it's just the GOP. This is an incredible situation that is being passed off by our town leader as no big deal - it's scandalous!
Jim Eastwood August 08, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Again POLITICS have overcome Professional actions. Question for today: Why did Flatto sell his house and Move to BRIDGEPORT??? Wake Up !!! Have a Great Day and Pay and Pay(your Taxes !!!)
KEVIN DILLON August 08, 2012 at 03:26 PM
This is not a deal you make with someone who has done wrong. The town charter requires a unanimous vote of the selectmen to remove the CFO from office with cause. This didn't happen, so clearly there is no cause. So what is the motive behind Tetreau's move? The town has the right to know. But we won't. He will hide behind the secrecy of the agreement. Hopefully voters who were duped when they elected him, will keep this in mind the next time around.
Andrea Williams August 08, 2012 at 03:34 PM
John if that were the case that why was he put on administrative leave and not sick leave and why is he getting so much money to be gone? Somthing is going on the and Tetreau doesn't want the citizens to know.
Angry Taxpayer August 08, 2012 at 03:49 PM
On the contrary.... This could be a deal for someone who has done wrong under the Tetreau administration... Fire Chief Felner slapped a subordinate, lied about it in the press, Tetreau allowed him to take vacation versus administrative leave and then Felner was rewarded with a contract extension and award from the fire commission and state delegation. So much for honest, open and transparent government in Fairfield...
Bob Melcher, Visiting Angels Senior Care August 08, 2012 at 04:07 PM
If it is medical, only Hiller can disclose why he left and if it is not, after 10 years, this is not a big package, especially for someone who has done such a great job. It cost roughly $3 per resident when you include payroll taxes and benefits.
John Doe August 08, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Hiller went on record at a Leage of Women Voters meeting stating that the town's plan to switch police pensions to 401k type, would end up being more costly than the current pension. The elected officials and Tetreau are against the current pension plan to the point that they have yet to settle contract negotions with our police officers. Their current contract Expired in July 2010. The police union has since filed for arbitration with the state, which will now cost the town more money. I'm guessing this town really just doesn't care and will spend all the money it needs at the taxpayers expense just to advance their own political agendas. And I know this is an "old" subject as far as the Patch is reporting but how can we let our town screw with Police and Fire employees?? They are our life line, just look at all the crime and other crap they respond to day in and day out.
Heron Beaverbrook August 08, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Mr Hiller is an intelligent man who looked out for Fairfield. All my dealings with the man left me with a better understanding of what I went to see him about. There has been no other town official who could be bothered to explain things as well as Mr Hiller always has. Mr Hiller always did his best to look out for our town. He will be a hard man to replace.
Sarah August 08, 2012 at 05:01 PM
This feels thoroughly rotten. There seems to be a bit of a cleaning house of very good and qualified people -- starting with Jim Gallagher -- that is being done quickly and with little explanation. Wake up Fairfield!! This deal for Hiller is coming at quite an expense to the town. And Bob Maher is not qualified for this; Tetreau must be doing a friend a favor. I hope Cristin M.V. doesn't just play the role of loyal lieutenant, or this will justifiably drag her down as well.
Sarah August 08, 2012 at 05:03 PM
What does this Flatto comment have to do with ANYTHING? He was a private citizen making a choice to downsize. Why do you care -- why should any of us care -- where he chooses to move?
James H August 08, 2012 at 07:49 PM
I have to say this leaves me quite concerned for the town. As Someone else pointed out in this string, one department head (allegedly) slaps a subordinate. Through it's actions (and more importantly inactions) the town effectively said "we condone violence in the workplace". Now a qualified and competent CFO is replaced without explanation and given quite a good severence package. If this was for cause there would not have been should a generous payout.
Steve August 08, 2012 at 09:04 PM
From what I can tell there was nothing illegal about his termination and the first selectman was not violating any law and was working within his rights . If you don't like the way the town charter works, change it. Otherwise, stop playing busybody politics.
Laura August 09, 2012 at 12:43 AM
"Busybody politics"? Really??? Are you saying we should not hold our first selectman accountable for explaining this? That it requires changing the town charter to find out why a respected town employee was suddenly put on leave, given a generous package that will cost taxpayers more, with a binding confidentiality clause for the employee - and we should not worry about it because no law was violated and it was "within the rights of the first selectman"?
James H August 09, 2012 at 02:14 AM
This is by no means "busy body politics"...these comments and all the recent questions around how this town's leadership and department head behavior goes directly to our most fundimental rights. Unless I was lied to in school I was taught that Congress shall "make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances". In short Steve, it is the right of every citizen to question the actions of it's leaders when those actions need to be cloaked in secrecy.
Lori August 09, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Nor would he be "bound to confidentiality"
S. Frank August 09, 2012 at 01:58 PM
I could do that job for half of what we paid him and w/ no huge package when I abruptly left.
steve sheppard August 09, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Just to muddy the waters......when I read the severance package I questioned the boost up in pay for his retirement package, I also question why we would pay the difference between what we paid him and what his next job will pay him. Then I got to the legal part where we will pay around $600 a day for legal counsel.......so that reminded me of a different case where that was put in because of a sexual harassment case........so what is really going on. Hiller never said no to any spending project that I can remember as it seemed he always just went along with any spending plans. The CFO has to say NO to spending and he never did. All Hiller would do is say "oh it will only cost $14.00 per household" and that kind of effect. Never talking about the compounding factor to the taxpayer. I also did not know he would get a pension as I thought he was non-union as he stated in the paper he was in real estate.
iamspartacus August 09, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Steve, He is a non union employee, union employees have to work 30 years to get less than Hiller did for 13. His pension will be more than the pension the 911 operators get for a career of service. All department heads including the first selectman are in the pension system and get post-retirement health care. Not only do they get it --they get more of it, and put less into it. But because he is non-union , and a republican you will only see a bit of teeth nashing and hair pulling from the republican rtm, they only really go after union employees like telecomunicators making less than $60k a year. I could have sworn the high priced carpet bagging west hartford lawyer said at the rtm vote on the firefighter's contract that any contract worth more than $10,000 had to be brought for a vote by state law (i wonder what we paid for that great piece of advice). After which we heard the rtm whine about flatto, well are they gonna blame this "side deal" on him too? But don't get your hopes up steve...
Edgar August 10, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Anyone also notice that Tetreau has now taken 3 weeks of vacation.... In his first year!! Here is a guy that wants to cut everyone else's benefits but clearly does not lead by example... All hail King Mike the hypocrite!!
Amo Probus August 10, 2012 at 09:30 AM
Call in the FBI
S. Frank August 10, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Hey Micki, What's better? More "costly" litigation or letting it pass so our leaders can continue to make costly insider deals, undertake costly projects we don't need, make costly secret agreements and continue to run the town for their own personal objectives. Maybe you like being taken advantage of. I don't! If we don't take a stand it will never end.
Creeky August 10, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Well, rumor has it...

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