Members of the Board of Finance last week offered high praise for a fellow member of the appointed body who is stepping down after 15 years.
Neil Budnick has been “a phenomenal counselor, partner, sounding board and thinker,” Board Chair Lavieri said during the group’s regular meeting held June 7 at Town Hall and via videoconference.
“You have added so much value to this board on all of the things you’ve done,” he said. “On anything you’ve done. And you always raise your hand, and you’re always willing to help and you always go the extra mile. Town pensions are overfunded, and there’s a lot of guidance there from the committee, yourself included, of course. A lot of the things that have happened here over 15 years. You’ve really been instrumental and helpful. And I don’t know that everyone appreciates all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.”
Budnick will step down July 1, following the close of the fiscal year, Lavieri said.
Board members noted Budnick’s close involvement with New Canaan Library as a liaison to that organization, as well as his participation on both the pension and government committees.
Chris LeBris said that Budnick came as a liaison to the library “during the dark days of the Long Term Planning Committee.”
“And when Neil showed up as our liaison for the fist time, and so much work was done between the library and town, with Neil’s help to get the library back and focused on what it wanted to do and needed to do and move forward” he said. “The new library plans had gotten a bit lost.”
Some of those who joined the Board of Finance after Budnick said he has served as a role model.
Tom Schulte said he didn’t fully appreciate what was involved when he joined eight years ago, and found himself looking around for guidance.
“And I have to say, I often looked to you from the dais and thought, ‘There’s a clear thinker. There’s someone who has the best interests of the town at heart,’ ” Schulte recalled. “And I have to say, we’re going to miss you.”
Budnick said he considered fellow Board members his friends, and that the appointed body has done well to avoid politics in its decision-making.
“I had a great time,” he said, adding with a smile: “I overstayed my welcome.”
Board member Victor Alvarez said Budnick has worked hard from a desire to help New Canaan.
“I respect that so much,” Alvarez said, before leading the group in a round of applause for Budnick.
Board member Michael Chen said he and Budnick are “kindred spirits” in that they come from a financial services background.
“We’ve some great discussions and great debates—we may not always see eye to eye, but I admire him,” Chen said. “He’s a person who always cares about the town, he wants to do the right thing. So Neil, I would just say it’s been an honor working with you and having these healthy discussions with you. It’s never been about that political position. It’s always about what is the right answer for the town.”