Category Archives: Uncategorized

First Selectman’s Response to Questions on Hiring of Communications Consultant

October 4, 2019

At the end of this past Wednesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting, there were some inaccurate statements and several false allegations regarding the communications consultant hired by the Town this past summer.  It is unfortunate that these statements were made without any background or research.  I would like to take this opportunity to provide residents with background and circumstances regarding this hiring.

Let’s look at the facts:

In early August, I was notified of a possible arrest of a town employee. I realized this would be a traumatic experience for our Town and our residents would have significant concerns along with a number of questions.  It would be important to fully explain the facts and circumstances of the situation.  The Town does not have a communications department and I felt professional expertise was required to address this properly and expeditiously.  It was and always has been my intent to provide complete and accurate information to our residents.

Hiring a communications professional in this type of situation is following best practices.  To that end, I reached out to Christopher Gidez who has a background in crisis communication as well as considerable experience in managing communications on complex environmental issues.  We agreed on a $3,000 retainer.  It was not anticipated that there would be an extended need for Mr. Gidez’s services.

However, on the same day that two Town employees were arrested, the Health Department was notified that the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) was coming to Gould Manor Park to test for contaminants.  In order to be prepared to address any public health or safety concerns, the Town immediately hired a Licensed Environmental Professional, Tighe & Bond.  Additionally, since the testing performed at Gould Manor by DEEP was a result of concerns over the use of fill from the aggregate pile at the reclamation yard, I asked our Health Department to search for any additional Town sites where the aggregate fill may have been used.

Due to the seriousness and complexity of the testing of various Town sites, I asked the communications consultant to stay on to ensure that the Town provided communication that was factual, transparent, coordinated and timely during this time of anxiety and uncertainty over the health and safety of our residents.

Over the last two months, the Town has put in place an extensive communications plan. We set up a webpage, www.fairfieldct.org/filluseissues, that includes complete test results, a video from the State Department of Public Health, a “scorecard” so residents can track the status of all parks and fields and a list of third party resources to help residents better understand the relative risk of the materials identified by the testing. We have provided frequent email updates. We also set up a special email address so residents can direct specific questions and concerns to the Health Department.  All the communications have been to ensure our residents have access to complete and accurate information.

My three priorities continue to be Public Safety, Accountability and Transparency/Communications.

Our message is clear and consistent.  I am proud of how our Town employees have risen to this challenge, and I am grateful for the input we have received from Town residents by way of questions, suggestions and concerns.  This has guided our communications.

It is inappropriate for anyone to mischaracterize these communications as anything other than factual and public safety oriented. It is my responsibility, and the Town’s responsibility, to communicate fully and regularly as the facts have unfolded over the past two months.  Mr. Gidez has been an excellent and very professional resource to the Town. 

It is time to stop playing politics.  It is time to stop trying to scare our residents. It is the obligation of every Town employee, elected official and volunteer appointee to focus on doing what is best for our residents and for our Town.

Thank you,

Mike Tetreau
First Selectman

Update on Most Recent Julian Legal Developments

August 6, 2019

Over two years ago, I requested our Police Department conduct an investigation into issues regarding the “fill pile” at Richard White Way.  The Town of Fairfield also initiated a civil action against Julian Development, the company hired to manage and reduce the size of the pile.  The Town is seeking damages following the discovery of hazardous waste brought to the site.

As the investigation has been ongoing, I have recently received disturbing information that includes allegations against two Department of Public Works supervisory personnel.  Therefore, in addition to placing Superintendent Scott Bartlett on administrative leave last week, I have also placed Joe Michelangelo, Director of Public Works, on administrative leave.

Messrs. Michelangelo and Bartlett have subsequently been arrested and we also understand that a principal of Julian Development has been arrested.

The action I have taken to place Messrs. Michelangelo and Bartlett on administrative leave should not be interpreted as a judgement about the allegations which have been made.  However, given the facts that have come to light, and the need to ensure that our Department of Public Works can continue to serve the citizens of Fairfield with the quality of services they have come to expect, this is the right step for Fairfield’s residents and for our Public Works employees.

On an interim basis, I have assigned the day-to-day management of the Public Works operations to Fairfield’s Director of Conservation, Brian Carey.  Additionally, I have assigned all supervisory engineering responsibilities and oversight to Bill Hurley, the Town’s Engineering Manager.

Mr. Carey’s previous experience supervising a municipal public works department, together with Mr. Hurley’s almost 20 years as the Town’s Engineering Manager, will ensure that the Department maintains a high level of efficiency and experiences a smooth transition during this interim leadership period.  All permanent management decisions will be considered at a later date.

In my capacity as First Selectman since 2011, I have strived to emphasize integrity in all that we do for the residents of Fairfield.  This goes for our employees as well as those companies with which we contract to support the Town and its needs and we must have zero tolerance for any suggestion of impropriety.

The Town will continue to vigorously pursue its civil claim against Julian Development for costs and damages associated with that company’s management of the site.  At present, that claim is in arbitration.

Let me be clear – the employees of the Town of Fairfield are as talented, committed and professional as any you will find in municipal government.  We will not let this episode tarnish the reputation of our town and all the great men and women who work tirelessly to make Fairfield the outstanding place that it is to live and work.

–First Selectman Mike Tetreau

A Memorial Day Message

May 24, 2019

Every year, the Memorial Day parade in Fairfield is one of my favorite events. This parade brings together thousands from our community, young and old.  It is imperative for our young people to interact with veterans, ask questions, hear their stories, and understand their sacrifices so that they can continue the American tradition of living with a deep gratitude and appreciation for how our soldiers and veterans make our freedom a reality. The Memorial Day parade is significant because it represents the deep meaning of service and sacrifice.

My brother Bill served in the U.S. Army as a member of the Reserves. He was deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving his wife and two children behind for extended periods of time.  I witnessed the burden this put on their entire family. When he returned from his deployments, I recognized the toll his sacrifices for our nation took on him. These sacrifices are unimaginable to us who have not made them and we have an impossible debt to pay to our veterans.

While it will never be enough, every year, we dedicate a day to memorialize those who have served, sacrificed, and succumbed to our nation to remain the greatest in the world.  I live every day with that knowledge, but this is a great time of year to express it and share it in the hopes that our young people learn and our veterans feel our community’s deep gratitude. 

I wish all Fairfield residents a happy and safe Memorial Day and hope to see you at the Parade.

-First Selectman Mike Tetreau

 

 

 

State Budget Update – The State Teacher Pension Cost Transfer to Towns is Back

May 13, 2019

This is not good news.  We have to stop this.  We have to work together to stop this.

For Fairfield, this means $700,000 added to our expenses starting July 1.  Let me be clear, this $700,000 is not in our approved budget and would force us to make cuts to services.  This expense line will grow quickly – $1.4 million next year and $2.1 million the following year. This cost represents our fastest growing expense line item in our budget.

This pension cost transfer will put pressure on our Education budget and take money away from our students.  Because we value our teachers, we will also pay a penalty fee because we pay our teachers more than the state average.

This pension cost transfer will also force towns to raise property taxes. Connecticut property taxes are among the highest in the nation and this cost transfer makes them higher, raising the cost of housing in Connecticut. This cost transfer will hurt our most vulnerable residents – our seniors and lower income property homeowners.  We value these residents. We value our neighbors.

This transfer approach simply hits our town with another unfunded state mandate. This approach is a complete abdication of the State’s responsibility to fund the teacher pension costs.

Fairfield is third in total income tax dollars sent to Hartford to fund State government. In fact, in the last four years, we have sent the State over $1 billion when you combine income tax and sales tax dollars.  Our dollars fund school systems and social programs all over the state. Fairfield is doing more than its fair share.  This is not fair or equitable. We need to demand that the State spends our dollars wisely.

I have just received a letter from the CEA – the State Teachers organization asking our help to oppose this bill. I am working with other First Selectmen and Mayors to oppose this cost transfer. I am working with MetroCOG towns and the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities to stop this transfer.

We are going to need everyone’s help to fight this….please contact your State Senator (tony.hwang@cga.ct.gov), State Representative (Cristin.McCarthyVahey@cga.ct.gov, 133rd District, brenda.kupchick@cga.ct.gov, 132nd District, or Laura.Devlin@housegop.ct.gov, 134th District), the Governor (via his Executive Assistant, Kathryn.damato@ct.gov) and Lieutenant Governor (ltgovernor.bysiewicz@ct.gov).  If you aren’t sure who your State Representative is, please visit www.fairfieldct.org/wheredoivote.

Please tell them you are opposed to this transfer of teacher pension costs. Simply put, it is a State program and the State should pay for it.

Thank you for reading,

First Selectman Mike Tetreau

Fairfield County is the Engine That Drives Connecticut’s Economy

October 14, 2018

I served as a panelist last week at the Chinese Association for Science and Technology’s annual US-China Investment Forum.  I thought it might be beneficial to share an excerpt from my presentation.

I represented Fairfield and the Fairfield 5, promoting investment in Fairfield County. The Fairfield 5 is a collaboration of Fairfield, Greenwich, Stamford, Norwalk, and Westport to promote economic development in Fairfield County.  We represent a united coalition of five desirable Triple A-rated communities that are financially strong, stable and secure. Our mission is to get the message out that we want your business and we want your investment.  Since we do not have County government, there really is no other group speaking for and promoting Fairfield County.

Twenty-five percent (25%) of all Connecticut jobs are in Fairfield County.  Half of those are found in the municipalities that make up the Fairfield 5.

Thirty percent (30%) of all Connecticut employers are in Fairfield County.  Again, half of those find a home among the Fairfield 5.

Forty-one percent(41%) of Connecticut Income Tax revenue is generated in Fairfield County. And no surprise that half of that income or 22% of all State Income Tax is generated from Fairfield, Greenwich, Stamford, Norwalk, and Westport – the Fairfield 5.

As these numbers clearly show, Fairfield County is the engine that drives the Connecticut economy.

These numbers also clearly show why the State of Connecticut needs to make Fairfield County infrastructure a priority – especially transportation. This is a powerful message and we are committed to getting out our story to everyone.

I will be sharing some additional excerpts in the weeks ahead.

Thank you,
Mike

Making Fairfield & Fairfield County an Investment Priority for the State

Friday, July 13, 2018

Here are some interesting statistics and rankings….

For 2016, Fairfield residents paid over $210 million to the State of Connecticut in State income tax revenue.

The Town of Fairfield ranks 3rd in the State in income tax revenue contributed to the State. 

Greenwich and Stamford are the only municipalities that contribute more.

Fairfield comes in just ahead of Westport.

The Fairfield County 5 (Greenwich, Stamford, Norwalk, Westport and Fairfield) contribute 22% of the total income tax revenue to the State.

Fairfield County overall contributes 42% of the total income tax revenue to the State.

These are just some of the reasons why our Town and our County should be an investment priority for the State.

Thanks for reading,
Mike

First Selectman’s Perspective on Fairfield

February 20, 2018

As we look toward the some of the challenges we face in the upcoming years, it is important that we have a vision for our town that embodies the essence of what makes Fairfield so unique and special. While I recognize there are many different perspectives, here is how I see our Town:

We are a family friendly and neighborhood oriented community that values our top quality school system and our fine libraries. We value living in a safe and secure community.

We work diligently on providing opportunities for our seniors to be able to afford stay in town and to have plenty of activities and services to make them want to stay here.

We have a vibrant local economy. We are a destination for culture, the arts, dining, entertainment and shopping for the region.

We are a leader in sustainability – especially in the use of green and renewable energy options. We do our best to be responsible and protect the environment.

We work daily to strengthen our financial foundation and make responsible decisions about our future. We are committed to planning for and meeting our long-term obligations.

We value our historic character and the important roles our citizens have played in shaping our community. We strive to keep our heritage alive for future generations.

We value and respect our open spaces, parks, beaches and recreational opportunities our town provides.

We want Fairfield to be a good value for all who live here today and tomorrow.

Thank you,

Mike

Fairfield is growing!

February 12, 2018

One of our goals is to keep Fairfield growing in value. The best indicator of our success is that people are still choosing to move to Fairfield. While Connecticut may be losing population, Fairfield is still growing.

Here are the facts…

Year                Population

2000                57,340

2010                59,404
2011                59,078
2012                59,562
2013                60,126
2014                60,678
2015                61,016
2016                61,114

Thank you, Mike.

Source: U.S. Census

Property Owners May Prepay Taxes Due January and April 2018

The Town has received many inquiries from residents regarding the prepayment of taxes.   I would like to clarify a few things to help residents prepare and plan accordingly.

According to State Statute, the Town only has the authority to accept prepayment, by December 31st, of tax payments due January 1, 2018 and April 1, 2018.  State Statute does not allow you to prepay taxes due July 1, 2018 or later, this December.

Those wishing to prepay their January and April taxes can do so:

  1. In Person – At the Tax Collector’s Office by 4:30 pm, Friday, December 29th (hours are M-F 8:30-4:30)
  2. By Mail – Must be postmarked by Sunday, December 31st
  3. Online – Must be submitted by midnight, Sunday, December 31st (convenience fee applies)

You can go to www.fairfieldct.org/taxpayment to view your tax bill and/or pay your taxes online.

Please note that this is not tax advice and the Town takes no responsibility regarding the IRS treatment of these payments.  The Town strongly recommends that you consult with your personal tax advisor before making a decision to prepay.

For more detailed information please read the press release from our Tax Collector.

New State Budget Updates

Here is an update on the status of the State Budget and its impact on Fairfield. We will be finding out more in the days, weeks and months ahead, but here is what we know today.

1. There is a Renters Rebate program for elderly and disabled persons.  This was funded, but not authorized to be spent in the recent State budget. The Senate has met and voted to authorize the funds to be spent, but towns are now required to pay for half the cost.  In Fairfield’s case, we budgeted $100,000 in revenue reimbursements from the State for this program. We now have to find $50,000 in adjustments to pay for half this program. This amounts to an unfunded mandate.

2. There is an Elderly and Disabled Homeowners Tax Credit program.  This program was NOT funded in the State budget. These tax credits have already been applied to our qualified residents’ 2017-2018 property tax bills. There doesn’t appear to be a solution coming from the State. We budgeted $414,000 in revenue reimbursements from the State for this program.  This creates another hole in our budget and is another unfunded mandate.

3. It was announced in the news media that the State is falling short on its revenue projections.  Last December when this happened, Fairfield was cut over $500,000 in municipal aid.  We are waiting for the details of the impact of this shortfall on Fairfield.

4. Lastly, the Governor is letting the media know how difficult it will be to find the budgeted savings that are included in the recently passed budget.  This could signal even more cuts to our town funding come springtime.

For all these reasons, I am taking a cautious approach. My administration continues to tightly manage costs and we are still keeping numerous capital projects on hold.

I will keep you updated as we learn more about the impact of the State’s budget and operations on our town.

Thanks for reading.

Mike