Published March 21. 2012 4:00AM
New London - For the third time, the City Council refused to appropriate extra money to pay for separation packages for three police administrators who left the police department in January.
A motion at Tuesday's meeting to approve $76,640 to fund retirement agreements for Capt. William Dittman and Capt. Michael Lacey, and a severance package for Deputy Chief Marshall Segar, died in a 3-3 vote. A tie means a motion fails.
Council President Michael Passero and councilors Wade Hyslop and Donald Macrino voted in favor of the appropriation. Councilors Marie Friess-McSparran, Adam Sprecace and John Maynard voted no. Councilor Anthony Nolan, who is a police officer, abstained from voting and left the room during the discussion.
Before the vote, Passero urged his fellow councilors to vote to spend the money, in part, out of respect for the longtime employees.
"I'm prepared to move forward,'' Passero, who previously had voted against funding the agreements, said. "I'm going to support this, however reluctantly."
He said the officers are entitled to a majority of the money outlined in the agreements as part of their contracts.
"I don't believe any of them were ready to retire,'' he said. "Mistakes have been made. But I encourage the council to support this."
Friess-McSparran questioned whether approving the money would affect pending litigation, or potential litigation, and whether it could affect a decision made by a union arbitor.
"Anything's possible,'' Law Director Jeffrey Londregan said. He added that if the city funds the enhanced packages, an award in a lawsuit would be reduced by that amount. Dittman has filed a lawsuit against the city, and Londregan said Lacey and Segar have indicated they intend to sue.
In January, Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio announced that Dittman, a 35-year veteran of the department, and Lacey, a 28-year veteran, were retiring. The mayor also announced that Segar's one-year contract was not being renewed. Segar had been with the department for 20 years, and had been deputy chief since 2009.
In February, the council refused to approve the three settlement agreements. At the time, it was estimated that the agreements would cost the city about $230,000 in additional benefits for the three officers.
Maynard said he could not vote in favor of the money because it goes beyond what the union negotiated for all other officers.
At one point, Hyslop tried to table the vote, but that motion failed.
Also on Tuesday, the council unanimously agreed not to approve a request by the administration to add $15,000 to the police special events overtime budget.
And a request to move $390,000 from the Capital Projects Fund into the contingency fund also failed, despite Passero again asking for his fellow councilors' approval.
"The city still has a $3 million shortfall,'' Passero said, referring to a projected deficit in the current budget. "Moving the (money) now into the General Fund will help shore up the shortfall."
He said the council eventually is going to have to find money to balance the budget.
But Sprecace said he would not approve the transfer to the administration because the council would then have no oversight on how it is spent.
A $10,000 transfer of funds into the mayor's payroll budget, basically an accounting adjustment, was approved.