Board chair will not seek reappointment

NAUGATUCK — The chairman of the borough’s finance board is stepping down after five years as its leader and two decades on the board.

Raymond M. Lennon Jr. will not seek reappointment to the board, he announced Tuesday in a letter to Mayor Robert A. Mezzo. Lennon’s term of appointment is up this month.

Lennon, 57, a project manager for a commercial construction company, said he wants to spend more of his spare time with his family and devote more time to his job. He is married, has two grown children and two grandchildren.

“The experience to serve the community has been wonderful,” he said. “We’ve had members who have disagreed over the years, but in the end, we all have a common goal and that’s to do something good for the town.”

Mezzo, who credits Lennon, Burgess Robert Neth and former Finance Board Chairman Harry Cashin with helping him gain a solid understanding of municipal budgeting, said he believes Lennon has had a positive influence on the community.

“The unique thing about Ray is that he possesses a tremendous amount of intellect combined with a very quiet dignity that allows him to be an extremely effective leader,” Mezzo said.

He said Lennon started with a goal 20 years ago of bringing the borough into sound financial shape after several years of what Mezzo called questionable budget practices. He said Lennon helped lead the charge to build up the borough’s fund balance, helped address the problem of unfunded employee pension liabilities and helped the borough realize the world of municipal insurance coverage was changing dramatically.

He also said Lennon, a Republican, kept politics out of the mix, which Mezzo believes is necessary for a finance board leader.

This year, Lennon and the finance board set a $103.7 million town and school budget that represents a 0.74 percent increase, or $758,340, which bumps the tax rate 0.5 percent to 32.02 mills. It increases the tax bill on an average single-family home about $78 to $4,998.

Neth, the former finance board chairman and current burgess liaison to the finance board, said it takes a tremendous amount of time and effort, especially during budget season, to be chairman of the finance board.

“It’s a ton of work and you need the right person there to do it,” Neth said. “Ray was the right person. He would let you speak. When he made a point, you knew it. He was never nasty with anyone. He was a terrific member, and he’s going to be tough to replace as chairman.”

All finance board members are appointed by the mayor contingent upon a positive vote from the Board of Mayor and Burgesses. It was unclear Wednesday who will be appointed to replace Lennon and who from the finance board would step up as chairman.