Public works director replaced
BETHANY - First Selectwoman Derrylyn Gorski said she recently hired a new public works director to replace Cliff Rosson."We hired a new public works director, Alan Green, on Jan. 22," Gorski said.
According to the hearing decision issued by the state of Connecticut denying Rosson unemployment compensation held on Dec. 27, Rosson overstepped his authority and purchased a $115,000 Sterling Dump truck without the approval of the Board of Selectmen which is required by the town ordinance.
"According to representatives of Gabrielli Trucking, Rosson made an arrangement to trade in two trucks to apply toward the purchase price of one new one," Gorski added.
"When a town sells its equipment, the sale must be authorized by the selectmen. This trade-in was not," she said.
Gorski explained the same procedures that were in place when the town bought a truck in 2004 were in place when at the town meeting in July 2006 $115,000 was voted and earmarked for the purchase of a new dump truck. According the dealership, Rosson went ahead on his own and provided the dealership with a purchase order. Purchase orders can only be authorized by the selectmen.
The first Gorski knew of any of the transactions Rosson made on his own was by observing on a drive in Bethany in November and noticed one of the vehicles at a garage that was not used by the town for repairs.
"I called Cliff the next day and asked why the truck was there. He said it was not our truck and proceeded to say he had traded it in," Gorski said.
"I asked him on whose authority. The truck had a new engine put in a year and a half ago," Gorski said explaining that such purchases and transactions needed approval of the Boar of Selectmen which Rosson had never requested.
"I told him I needed all the paperwork, I spoke to the dealership to get their documents," Gorski said.
When contacted for comment Rosson said the transactions were "Blown way out of proportion" and "I did do a little mistake." He went on to say the situation was a "Lack of communication between the first selectman and myself."
When asked what the lack of communication was since there is state law that requires the board of selectmen to authorize purchases he said "I don't want to say anymore I have an attorney."
Gorski said that she conducted a thorough investigation into his actions before making the change in the best interest of Bethany.
The issue of the truck purchase and trade was discussed at three meetings of the Board of Selectmen. According to the minutes of the Dec. 1 meeting a representative from Gabrielli Truck Sales said Rosson had been contacted and told there would be a $6,000 increase in the new year model due to new emission standards. At that time Rosson preordered the truck. The truck was officially ordered by Rosson on Aug. 9. On Aug. 16 Rosson signed over the title to Gabrielli Truck Sales for the 1980 truck owned by the town with plow and sander on it" Dec 1, 2006 minutes read.
Gabrielli Truck Sales explained that Rosson represented himself as having authority to broker and sign. They explained that the reason for the trade of the two trucks was having a shortfall of $8,741 over the $115,000.00 as the purchase price of the new dump truck was $123,741 and Rosson said he could trade in a 1980 and1987 trucks. They said they estimated the value of the 1980 truck at $2,500. "The 1980 truck never physically went to Gabrielli Truck Sales but was resold by Gabrielli to a person sent to Gabriell by Clifford Rosson. The selling price by Gabrielli to this individual was $3,500." According to the Dec. 11 meeting minutes.
"Ultimately, because the Selectmen did not approve the purchase or trade-in, the town was not obligated to purchase the truck," Gorski said. "The procedures are in place to insure that the Town of Bethany gets the best price and the right equipment for the Town. It is why we have a budget process, public hearing on the budget, town meeting, referendum and a town meeting after a referendum to vote to authorize the funding for a truck. And then final step a bidding process, where the selectmen make the final decision.
"In working with Herb Howard acting Director of Public Works, Al Green and employees of the public works department, I was able to negotiate the purchase a 2007 truck through the state contracts for $114,683 without requiring any trade ins and of a superior quality," Gorski said. This proposal was approved and authorized by a vote of the Board of Selectmen on December 27, 2007
"In order to protect the town, I referred the matter to the resident trooper," Gorski said.
According to Trooper Dave Merrian nothing criminal seems to have taken place.
"At this point it looks like a violation of town procedures," Merrian said.
Rossen was hired by the town in 1996. In 1999 he was promoted to road foreman, in 2001 he was promoted to Public Works Director
See next weeks issue for an in-depth interview with the new public works director Alan Green, a lifelong resident of Bethany.