NAUGATUCK — Zoning Enforcement Officer Steve Macary is serving a one-month unpaid suspension for what officials called “inappropriate behavior” after he accused Burgess Michael Bronko and his wife, Eileen, of lying during a public meeting.
On Aug. 22, while the Zoning Commission was considering whether to allow a tree fort in the Bronkos’ back yard, Michael Bronko told the commission he had asked Macary four years ago whether he could build the fort and Macary had no objections. Macary insisted such a conversation never took place.
“I think they’re lying,” Macary told the commission as people began to yell over each other to be heard. Chairman Joseph Savarese told Macary to be quiet, but Macary raised his voice and said, “I’ve caught you lying before, Mike.”
Savarese then ordered Macary to leave the room, and Macary complied.
Michael Bronko, a former mayor, said he filed a complaint the following week with the office of Mayor Robert Mezzo, asking for a formal reprimand and a public apology from Macary.
Michael Bronko said he and his wife, a former burgess, filed the complaint because they thought Macary’s behavior was uncalled for.
“A town employee shouldn’t behave like that in public meetings,” Michael Bronko said. “Town employees need to be professional, courteous, and he was neither of either.”
After receiving the complaint, borough officials scheduled a hearing with Macary for the middle of September, but it was later pushed back to Sept. 27, said John Lawlor, human resources director for the borough. After that hearing, Lawlor, Mezzo, Public Works Director James Stewart and a borough attorney decided Macary should serve a one-month unpaid suspension, which began Oct. 1 and ends Oct. 31.
Lawlor and Mezzo declined to comment on the reasons for their decision, citing a policy not to comment on personnel matters. Macary also declined to comment.
Michael Bronko said that he and his wife did not know Macary had been suspended and they had not received an apology.
“If you ask me, I think he got off light,” Bronko said. “He should have been fired.”
The Bronkos also filed a complaint against Macary in December, claiming he was not properly handling the zoning complaints they were filing against their neighbors and that he was entering their property without informing them.
Macary has also been given a “last chance agreement,” meaning he will be fired if he violates employee policies again, Lawlor said. He was working under a last chance agreement for 18 months after a similar incident in January 2010 that did not involve the Bronkos, Lawlor said. The most recent agreement, unlike the previous one, does not expire, Lawlor said.
Macary has worked for the borough for 13 years, Lawlor said. He was a sewer and road inspector before he became zoning enforcement officer in 2004. He makes more than $59,000 this year and is a member of the borough supervisors’ union.