New deals in place for 3 department heads

NAUGATUCK — The borough has negotiated new employment contracts with three municipal department heads.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses last week agreed to new pacts with Department of Public Works Director Jim Stewart, borough Engineer Wayne Zirolli and Senior Center Director Harvey Frydman.

Stewart and Frydman both signed five-year contracts that will keep them in Naugatuck through at least 2021, while Zirolli’s new contract will expire on Oct. 6, 2018 unless it is extended.

Stewart, who has worked for the borough for 16 years and is the former borough engineer, received the largest pay increase. Last year, he was paid $100,822. This year, he will be paid $113,342, a 12.4 percent increase.

Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said the reason for the large increase is because Stewart currently oversees DPW, which includes the street and parks and recreation departments, and the Naugatuck’s Water Pollution Control Authority.

The WPCA oversees Naugatuck’s sewage treatment facility, which is operated on a day-to-day basis by a private company, Veolia Water North America. Though the WPCA role has always been part of Stewart’s job responsibilities, he was never paid any additional money for those responsibilities. He was seeking it this year.

The new contract, which runs from last week to March of 2021, states that he will paid a $10,000 a year stipend to oversee the WPCA. He will continue to have a town vehicle.

He will get incremental pay increases over the next five years. In the final year, he will be paid $124,193. Hess said Stewart is still at the middle of the pay scale for DPW directors in like-sized communities. Those directors, he said, do not have the additional responsibility of overseeing water pollution control.

“In other towns, people who oversee DPW and those who oversee WPCA both get six-figure salaries,” Hess said.

Hess and borough attorney Edward “Ned” Fitzpatrick said they feared Stewart, whom they consider a valuable resource, would take a higher paying job somewhere else.

They also said they could not afford to lose him now because of negotiations that are ongoing regarding the treatment plant. Naugatuck and Veolia are embroiled in complex litigation regarding finances, and the borough is negotiating with the Environmental Protection Agency to figure out the best and most cost-effective way for Naugatuck to meet new unfunded mandates meant to mitigate pollution. Upgrades to meet those mandates could cost Naugatuck upward of $80 million.

Stewart said he enjoys working for the borough and hopes to remain here long term.

Zirolli received a 3 percent increase, taking him to $92,279 a year. The salary will be negotiated every year, but he cannot make less than that amount in each of the next two years.

Frydman also received a 3 percent increase, taking him to $48,457 annually. The contract also states that he cannot be paid less than that amount in any year moving forward.

All three employees are in the borough’s high deductible health savings accounts, which require employees to pay a deductible of $4,000 per year for a family or $2,000 per employee. All three positions are eligible for pensions.

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