Weeks after losing its well-regarded CFO to one neighboring town, New Canaan is hiring away a successor from another. The Board of Selectmen during a special meeting Monday voted 3-0 to hire Anne Kelly-Lenz starting Jan. 18. The CFO of Wilton since 2015, she succeeds Lunda Asmani, who left New Canaan last month to work for Norwalk. “I highly recommend Anne,” New Canaan Human Resources Director Cheryl Pickering Jones said during the meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference.
The town of New Canaan is poised to lose its prized CFO back to the city he’d left three years ago to come here, officials say. Lunda Asmani will leave effective Dec. 6 to work as CFO of Norwalk Public Schools pending formal approval by that city’s Board of Education, Director of Human Resources Cheryl Pickering Jones said when asked about his resignation. Hired as municipal budget director in 2018 and appointed to the larger role of CFO one year later—a combination of the budget and finance director jobs—Asmani’s departure will be “a huge loss,” she said. Asmani is leaving the town on good terms, Jones said.
Town officials say they could direct $500,000-plus of an approximately $6 million windfall in federal funds for New Canaan to municipal employees who have worked long hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Board of Finance “has been talking about a premium pay element for some employees after COVID and that will probably be for a half-million dollars or more,” according to First Selectman Kevin Moynihan.
“One of the purposes of these funds are to give premium pay to employees who, because of COVID, may have worked extra hard,” Moynihan said during the Oct. 5 meeting of the Board of Selectmen. “That is something that has been discussed and I think the Board of Finance will talk about that,” Moynihan said during the meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference.
The comments came during a general discussion of how the town should spend the first tranche of about $6 million granted to New Canaan through the American Rescue Plan Act.
Town officials disclosed the windfall mid-summer, and since then elected and appointed bodies including the selectmen, Board of Finance and Town Council have weighed in on how to spend the money, including outlining a process for such decisions. The town has until 2024 to spend the money.
About one year after retiring from New Canaan’s municipal government, Tom Stadler is set to return to handle some of the duties he performed while in the town administrative officer role. Stadler had served as New Canaan’s risk manager and when he retired “we discovered that there is a piece we are missing,” according to First Selectman Kevin Moynihan. “We met with CIRMA [Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency] recently and in order to have someone work on the immediate claim of incidence, we need someone local and someone who is available and Tom always was available for that,” Moynihan said during a regular Board of Selectmen meeting, held Aug. 17 at Town Hall and via videoconference. “He is in retirement.
The town has already lost millions of dollars in revenue due to COVID-19, with more losses to come as New Canaan emerges from the pandemic, so municipal officials should look to use $6 million in new federal funding to restore the town’s General Fund, Selectman Nick Williams said. The $3 million that New Canaan should get this week through the America Rescue Plan Act just about covers losses already incurred in areas such as parking, recreation programs and property rentals, Williams noted during the June 15 Board of Selectmen meeting. And New Canaan has “other continuing negative trends on revenue” that should be addressed in a second $3 million payment from the federal government that’s expected to come within the next 12 months, Williams said during the meeting, held both in person at Town Hall and via videoconference.
“Do we need to proactively say, ‘Oh we are going to get $3 million next year, Christmas has come early, what do we do with that money?’ ” he said. “It seems to me that prudence would augur that we just maybe just see how things go. Is there a rush?