Letter: Severance package hardly makes up for low compensation

Posted 1/14/21

I did not expect it to occur so quickly, but the battle between the conservatives and liberals on the “new old” Bristol Town Council has begun, as evidenced by the recent kerfuffle …

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Letter: Severance package hardly makes up for low compensation

Posted

I did not expect it to occur so quickly, but the battle between the conservatives and liberals on the “new old” Bristol Town Council has begun, as evidenced by the recent kerfuffle regarding the scrutiny of Lou Cirillo’s severance package by Tim Sweeney.

While I voted against Lou Cirillo every time he ran for office and have voted for Tim Sweeney every time he has run for office, I feel Tim may be barking up the wrong tree on this severance package issue, as I have firsthand experience with it. When I retired as a public employee in 2003, I received a severance package that was far more generous than the one Lou received, and there was no outcry or political scrutiny in the municipality where I was employed for a number of reasons.

First of all, my severance package was dictated by my union contract, which was negotiated and approved by the mayor and city council, so they were well aware of the terms and details of my package beforehand. Secondly, the compensation and benefit package for every single non-union/managerial and elected official was codified in the city ordinances, so once again, there is no ambiguity whatsoever about what an appointed or elected official will receive in their severance package when they retire.

Also, I must give credit to the council for proposing that all terms and conditions regarding compensation and benefits for elected town leaders be defined either in the town code or town charter, as this will prevent matters such as this from becoming an issue in the future. Defining and putting everything in writing beforehand is good public policy and eliminates surprises such as what we have seen in Lou’s case.

Bottom line here, the salary and benefits for Bristol town employees is embarrassingly low to begin with, and the severance package given to Lou Cirillo hardly makes up for how much he should have been compensated for his years of service to the town. And while I applaud Tim Sweeney for being a watchdog for the taxpayers, there are much bigger fish to fry in his battle against the conservatives, and those larger issues are where he should focus his efforts.

In politics, you have to pick and choose your fights carefully, and this is one that may not have been worth starting.

Mike Proto
Bristol

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