The Board of Selectmen Tuesday approved a contract with a law firm to review the legal issues surrounding the Jeb Walker pension flap.
First Selectman Robert Mallozzi announced that the firm, Bishop, Jackson & Kelly, would provide a "clear, independent" review to "help answer the myriad of questions about pension amendments" that have come up in recent weeks.
Mallozzi said that he, along with current Chief Financial Officer Dawn Norton and Town Administrator Tom Stadler, had looked for larger firms, including some in the Hartford and New Haven areas, but said they were prohibitively expensive. He said Bishop, Jackson & Kelly, which has worked on municipal issues recently in Stratford, was more in line with the scope of the New Canaan issue -- a $5,000 discrepancy -- adding that the administration has already done a good deal of the legwork in investigating.
The firm will review the issues of: whether former CFO Gary Conrad had the authority to pass pension changes without going through Town Council; whether health insurance changes that were passed in 2007 would have also needed to go before Town Council; and the role of the Pension Committee in the process, as well as other issues.
The Board of Selectmen also noted that former First Selectman Jeb Walker has agreed to pay back the difference of his pension benefits from the rate of $944 per month to $373 per month, which is a total of just more than $5,000 since he left office, although the mechanism by which Walker would pay back the sum has not been ironed out.
Selectman Nick Williams was strongly in favor of the approval.
"At the end of the day, we have to be fair to the town," he said. "We have to be fair to Mr. Walker, too."
Mallozzi said that upon completion of the review, the town would look toward making procedural changes to ensure that such incidents do not reoccur.
"Once we get some idea of recommendations, certainly I will engage our current legal councils to look over policies in place, certain dictums," he said.
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