Danbury’s chief financial officer was ousted after city leaders agreed to the split deal in a closed meeting

DANBURY — The city’s ousted chief financial officer, who oversaw nearly $1 billion in operating budgets, bonds and employee pensions, spoke for the first time on Thursday after being placed on paid leave , thanking the city he served for 15 years.

“I want to thank the wonderful people of Danbury, City Council, my colleagues and my staff for their incredible support,” David St. Hilaire said in a statement to CT Insider. “I look forward to spending more time with my family and taking care of my health as I enter this next phase of my life.”

His statement marks the first time he has spoken publicly about being removed as Danbury’s chief financial officer and comes a day after city leaders voted to accept the terms of his separation agreement.

There was no word Thursday from a leading member of city council or mayor’s office on the details of the separation agreement, which was discussed behind closed doors Wednesday evening and voted on in public without comment.

It was also unclear on Thursday whether the council-approved separation agreement had been finalized by the two parties.

St. Hilaire, who was Danbury’s second-highest-paid employee in 2019 at $178,000, was still on the city’s finance department’s list of directors on Thursday, even though he hasn’t reported for work since. six weeks.

For now, the department is in the hands of Daniel Garrick, the city’s deputy chief financial officer and risk manager.

The circumstances surrounding Saint-Hilaire’s paid leave have been kept secret by both parties who say the separation negotiations are confidential.

The latest development in the Saint-Hilaire move comes at a time when inflation is mounting, a recession looms, and the city is racing to complete an ambitious classroom construction program funded by a $208 million loan approved by the electors.

A town leader said the department was in good hands under the deputy manager, and town finances had not suffered in Saint-Hilaire’s absence.

“The deputy is doing a great job,” City Council Democratic Minority Leader Paul Rotello said last week. “The city’s finances are in excellent shape.

St. Hilaire said the city was in good financial shape in its statement Thursday.

“I am proud of the 15 years of outstanding financial performance and the creation of affordable strategic plans for the city that have contributed significantly to the high quality of life of its residents and businesses and the many other successes since 2007,” said St. Hilaire.

The only indication that city leaders were reaching a conclusion on splitting St. Hilaire came from a brief letter to city council on Wednesday from a Hartford labor lawyer hired by Danbury to negotiate with St. Hilaire.

“It would be timely and helpful to discuss the terms of the tentative agreement, status and other issues related to the claim,” Johanna Zelman wrote to the city council. “As a result, our external legal counsel, members of our legal staff and other City officials will be present at the City Council meeting on September 7, 2022 to advise you fully on this matter. A certification of funds will also be provided at this time.

Translation: The separation agreement that the city council approved on Wednesday is not being discussed in public.

In addition to the city’s $277 million operating budget, St. Hilaire managed Danbury’s $200 million capital improvement program, its $360 million pension plan, its deferred compensation of $100 million and its water and sewer utility funds of $25 million.

St. Hilaire’s split from Danbury follows a busy season in the city’s finance department, which was preparing Danbury’s $277 million budget just as the town hall shifted gears on its ambitious plan to catch up with growth. school registrations.

City Hall’s surprise decision in March to build a career academy for 1,400 high school students at a different location from a plan that had been on the books for years required new funding to be quickly finalized.

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