New financial leader begins work

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Naugatuck's new Controller and School Business Manager Robert Butler sits in his office at Town Hall. –RA ARCHIVE
Naugatuck’s new Controller and School Business Manager Robert Butler sits in his office at Town Hall. –RA ARCHIVE

NAUGATUCK — On his third day as the borough’s new controller and school business manager, Robert Butler had a self-help book on his desk.

“In ‘The Four Agreements,’ don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering,” the book jacket reads.

The book of Toltec philosophy, which also promised freedom and true happiness, was a gift from Butler’s highly praised predecessor, Wayne McAllister. Butler said he has at least benefited from the financial philosophies of his old boss, who pulled the borough and its school system out of the red through decades of conservatism and strategic investments.

“Wayne was a good teacher,” Butler said.

Butler was a member and chairman of the Board of Finance while working for General DataComm as manager of treasury contracts and analysis. He worked closely with McAllister in his role as finance board chairman, then directly under him as assistant business manager since last October.

The school system is seeking a replacement assistant business manager, a position that earned Butler $60,000 a year. The Board of Mayor and Burgesses on July 2 approved an employment agreement for Butler that pays him $98,500 per year, with nearly $16,000 coming from the school system. He will have a defined contribution pension similar to a 401(k) plan.

McAllister earned about $89,000 per year from the borough and $20,000 per year from the school system. He retired with a $77,000 pension to work as business manager of Region 14 schools. The borough board also appointed him last week as an alternate member of the finance board.

Butler said he is still learning how things work. In the long term, he, like other borough officials, hopes to use a strategic plan being completed by an outside firm to apply more sustainable business practices to borough government.

“If I find ways to save money that we haven’t utilized yet, we’ll do it,” Butler said. “There’s no easy cut and everybody thinks it should be somewhere else.”

Butler hit the ground running on his first day, coming in at 5 a.m. to complete a Medicaid report for the state. He said his new job, like his old one, allows him to attack problems and learn new things.

Butler, 54, grew up in Mahopeck, N.Y., sharing a hometown with former Assistant Superintendent of Schools Brigitte Crispino. He moved to the borough in 1986, when General DataComm relocated.

He did not say how long he planned to work for the borough, but pointed out he had worked for General DataComm for 30 years.

“I’m not a person who moves around a lot,” Butler said.