Treasurer sues for back salary in Bridgewater
Updated 3:46 pm, Tuesday, July 3, 2012
It's a case of "he said, she said, the town treasurer said" in Bridgewater.
Town treasurer Joseph Caruso filed a lawsuit in state Superior Court in Litchfield in late June against the town of Bridgewater, First Selectmen Bill Stuart and selectmen Curtis Reed and Edward Bennett.
The suit demands the portion of the alleged budgeted salary of $31,500.44, due from Nov. 9, 2011, through June 30, 2012, calculated at $605.78 per week.
Mr. Caruso was nominated treasurer in the Nov. 8, 2011 election. Almost since taking office, he has been at odds with Mr. Stuart and the Board of Selectmen over the performance of his duties.
Mr. Caruso's claim to the $31,500.44 salary is based on Bridgewater's 2011-12 budget, passed at a town meeting May 20, 2011, which listed the line item "treasurer" at that amount.
However, the Board of Selectmen voted Dec. 27, 2011 to reduce the treasurer's salary to $11,801.92 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012 -- an act Mr. Caruso's suit claims was not in the selectmen's purview and "violated his rights to procedural and substantive due process."
"I think it's really great to have a guy elected in November and then suing the town six months later," said Mr. Stuart. "Just like a lot of other line items in our budget, that figure represented two salaries being paid out of one line item."
The other salary, Mr. Stuart said, was for Kim Baron, who serves as financial administrator for the town.
"It was not for two separate salaries," Ms. Hawley said Monday. "Neither the Board of Finance nor the town meeting approved two separate salaries in that amount."
Ms. Hawley said her board was "repeatedly told" Ms. Baron's position was temporary. She said in July 2011 "adjustments had to be made" in the budget and her board was not told at that time two salaries existed in the line item.
"This suit and the suits relating to (New Milford attorney) Mr. (Paul) Garlasco have cost this town in excess of $300,000," Ms. Hawley said. "I think these people who have sued felt they had no other recourse.
"I know for Joe this is not about the money but is about doing the right thing and bringing transparency to town government," Ms. Hawley said.
A call to Mr. Caruso by The Spectrum was not immediately returned.