New Canaan selectors disagree on hiring process for part-time workers

NEW CANAAN — Coach Nick Williams recently took aim at first coach Kevin Moynihan for ceding more power than he’s entitled to as the three coaches discussed hiring part-timers.

Williams spoke in favor of a written resolution presented by Selectman Kathleen Corbet which argued that part-time workers should be approved by the Board of Selectmen. The city currently has 18 part-time employees. Seven have already been approved by the full board, according to Corbet’s Dec. 29 document.

“I’m the general manager,” Moynihan said, defending his right to hire part-time employees.

“You can’t accept the fact that the three of us are the executive, you seem to take it upon yourself that you are the executive,” Williams told fellow Republican Moynihan.

Corbet argued that for the 11 positions that are currently part-time without full board approval, retroactive voting should begin. She later said they were approved as part of the resolution approval. The positions listed in the resolution included four administrative assistants, a city planner, a wedding coordinator at Waveny House, a land-use planning consultant, a staff member for special projects and two crossing guards.

Moynihan pushed to get into executive session, saying they couldn’t discuss “politics without talking about individuals, and then we can go out and talk more about it.” He added: “To understand some of the nuances of this, we have to talk about individuals in an executive session.”

The other two managers agreed that they had already discussed it privately in a previous meeting.

Corbet explained his resolution and elected officials voted 2-1 to pass it. After much disagreement, the three agreed to take the proposal to City Council, the city’s legislative body.

There are four job classifications, including full-time, part-time, seasonal, and temporary with less than 20 hours per week. Only the fourth category, which includes election officials and consultants, would not be approved by the board, according to the document that Williams and Corbet voted to approve.

Given the first selector’s concerns about “the hiring of temporary employees such as election officials’ consultants, drivers and Get About dispatchers, any employee expected to work less than 20 hours would not need to be introduced to the council of breeders,” said Corbet.

Moynihan said he thought that was the wrong approach.

“You are saying publicly, ‘as the administrative manager of this city, “you will not respect the decision of this city, which is the executive branch of the city of New Canaan. Is that correct?” Williams asked.

“As an administrative director, I cannot enforce it,” Moynihan said.

Selectors expressed different interpretations of the city’s hiring regulations.

Moynihan argued that employment practices in New Canaan are confusing because the city code guides employees, not the charter. He said he had struggled to explain it to human resources manager Cheryl Jones the previous week.

“I’m a lawyer and her memorandum was perfectly legal. I’m sorry Kevin, but you’re wrong,” Williams said.

In the city charter, article C14-1 is entitled “Personnel under the jurisdiction of elected officials”. It states that “the appointment and removal of all city employees, except those elected or under the jurisdiction of the school board, fire board, or police board, shall be made by the elect”.

Corbet also noted that previous Boards of Selectmen had approved part-time employees.

Moynihan thinks the council should only approve salaried employees, because Chapter 44 of the city code states that employees “means all officers or salaried employees of the city, whose appointment or dismissal is within the jurisdiction of the council of selectors or the police commission”.

According to the city’s website page for selectors, the board’s responsibilities are characterized as “hiring all city employees, except those employed by the school board and the police department.”

Corbet said that going forward, it would be good practice to share the list of part-timers from time to time. “So we are aware of that and certainly anyone who moved from temporary to one of the previous three categories would be brought before the selectors’ board.”

Corbet also said that to learn more about employee policies, she had to make Freedom of Information Act requests for her report. She also worked with project coordinator Mimi Pitt and Jones to understand the hiring process.

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