New Milford hires finance director over GOP’s objection
Gronbach’s choice as the town’s new personnel director - Greg Bollaro - won unanimous support from the council.
Szymanski said that Palmer has very little experience managing muncipal finances, and he “wasn’t offered the permanent job” after his sole stint as a finance director - an interim position for the town of Hamden in 2004.
Palmer has worked as human resources director for the town of Darien for just under a year. Before that, he was human resources director for the Norwalk public school system for about a year.
He served as human resources director at two Illinois school districts between August 2005 and June 2014, and operated his own human resources and management consulting firm in between.
Prior to his service in local school and municipal government, Palmer worked for the state of Connecticut for 28 years in a variety of human resources positions.
Gronbach said after Monday night’s council meeting that Palmer explains the brevity of his recent stints on turnover above him. He was recruited to the Norwalk position by a school superintendent who then left, he said, and then the same thing happened with the town manager who hired him in Darien.
“He lives in Middlebury, so it’s a great commute for him,” Gronbach said. “He’s still got a fire in his belly for this.”
Palmer will start at a salary of $95,000, down from the $112,000 that Jankowski was making. Gronbach said the town will see additional savings because Palmer is a retired state employee who receives his health insurance through the state.
Palmer was paid $155,000 a year in Norwalk, according to an article about his appointment there in The Hour.
Bollaro, currently a human resources specialist for the state Department of Corrections, will earn $71,500 in the personnel director role, down from the $78,000 that New Milford has been paying Alan Chapin, who also announced his retirement following Gronbach’s election in November.
Bollaro, a New Milford resident, has worked for the state since December 2013. Previously he was an executive recruiter with Abraham & London Ltd. for eight years, and a manager with Darden Restaurants for eight years.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and human relations from Western Connecticut State University.
Jankowski announced in December that he was retiring effective Feb. 5. He had held the position for 26 years, through the tenure of six different mayors from both political parties.
Chapin announced in March that he will retire Aug. 1 after 11 years in the position. He is on leave until then, which is why the town is naming Bollaro to the job in an “interim” capacity until Aug. 1, followed by a permanent appointment.
Prior to his service with New Milford, Chapin was a selectman in Washington for 23 years, including 10 years as first selectman. He is the cousin of state Sen. Clark Chapin, who announced he was not seeking re-election after his wife, former New Milford Mayor Pat Murphy, lost her re-election bid in November to Gronbach.
Gronbach and town councilors met behind closed doors for more than an hour Monday night before voting on the appointments, first discussing the appointments among themselves, then calling Palmer in to meet with them, and then calling Bollaro in.