BERLIN -Jack Healy is now the permanent Town Manager after he and the mayor executed the employee agreement for him and the town Tuesday night.
The execution came after the council unanimously approved the contract agreement, after a brief closed door session Tuesday, and weeks of deliberation on the agreement, which included questions over if the charter was being followed.
“Thank you all,” Healy said to councilors after they accepted the agreement.
Healy had been serving as a fill in town manager since February 2017 after the council accepted a separation agreement between former Town Manager Denise McNair the month prior. She received about $60,000 in severance pay and insurance as part of her departure.
Mayor Mark Kaczynski said he approached McNair, who had been in the position for 8 years, with the separation agreement a couple weeks prior to its acceptance as a way to bring change to the town.
Healy maintained his responsibility as Public Works Director and Town Engineer during such time, and received a $3,000 monthly stipend for the extra work.
“(Customer service) is so important and he demonstrated that time and time again,” Kaczynski told The Herald after the meeting Tuesday on Healy’s appointment. He added Healy’s 16 months filling in, Connecticut roots, background in engineering and public works, and experience on the Board of Selectman, Finance and Education in Litchfield were pluses.
Democratic Councilors were initially opposed the appointment of Healy as he is a resident of Litchfield and the charter states the top manger of the town is required to live in town.
Section 5-1 of the charter states, “At the time of appointment, said Manager need not be a resident of the town or of the State of Connecticut but the Manager shall reside in the town during tenure of office.”
Removing the residency requirement was proposed as part of 2016 charter revisions, but were shot down as part of a question that asked for multiple charter language changes.
“The man’s there,” said Democratic Councilor Peter Rosso. “We did the best we could for the town,” adding fellow Democrats Karen Pagliaro and JoAnn Angelico-Stetson made some suggestions on cleaning up the contract. Rosso declined to say what exactly as the suggestions were as they were discussed in closed door session.
Kaczynski said the charter was being followed and a Supreme Court case from 2012 explained that residence does not mean domicile, so Healy could have a permanent residence in Litchfield, and a dual residence in Berlin. Corporation counsel Jeff Donofrio previously said as long as Healy buys or rents property in town that will qualify him for Berlin residency.
As part of the agreement, Healy will have a performance evaluation six months in, Kaczysnk said.
Healy’s salary will be about $140,000 and there will also be severance included in it, Kaczynski added. Outside of explaining the residency clause, the agreement is largely based off the contract of McNair, Kaczynski said.
A copy of the agreement was not immediately available by Kaczynski.
Healy was chosen out of three candidates that resulted from two searches. An executive search firm, which had estimates of up to $27,000, was not used because it would have cost more time and money, Kaczynski said, though Democratic councilors said they requested it.
The town will be looking to find a new public works director, Kaczynski said.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.