Updated Monday, 2:02 p.m., to include compensation Tranquillo will receive for unused sick and vacation time.
In an emailed letter to Southington Town Council members last week, the town manager said Anthony Tranquillo was told and agreed on several occasions that he had not adapted to the new management style, leading to the termination of employment.
The email, which was released to several media outlets Monday morning following Freedom of Information requests, provides details of several meetings between Public Works Director Anthony Tranquillo, Garry Brumback and Town Attorney Mark Sciota, including a Dec. 16, 2011, meeting in which Tranquillo had allegedly agreed to retire.
“It was my goal to make this change and allow Tony to retire on his terms but he has decided that we would rather not retire for several more years. This is an option I cannot support and still meet what I believe is the expectations of the Council and the community,” Brumback said in the email.
Tranquillo was that his services were no longer required in the town of Southington.
Tranquillo could not immediately be reached for comment Monday morning after the letter was released. He declined comment Friday but indicated to several media outlets that he would be seeking legal advice later this week.
Brumback said Monday that the town is hoping to “resolve the issue in a dignified way” and declined further comment.
A 39-year employee of the town, Tranquillo has overseen operations of the town’s and acted as an expert for the Town Council and Planning and Zoning Commission.
He will be allowed his accrued sick and vacation leave time, which officials have said is “a considerable amount.”
According to Finance Director Emilia Portelinha, Tranquillo had 37.5 days of unused vacation and would receive $16,942.80 in compensation as well as $24,397.63 in compensation for 54 days of unused sick time. In all, he will receive $41,340.43 for his unused time, she said.
In the letter to Tranquillo, Brumback tells him “you are eligible to retire and we will support that effort should you decide to pursue that option.”
Over the past 11 months, officials had apparently spoken with Tranquillo several times regarding expectations under current management and said that despite the discussions, he was not making progress towards meeting those expectations. The exact expectations were not detailed in the email letter sent to town council members.
An Aug. 4, 2011, meeting provided Brumback and Sciota an opportunity to meet with Tranquillo and discuss areas of improvement but those were not met, leading to the Dec. 16 meeting. At that time, Tranquillo agreed he had not made significant progress and agreed to retire.
The date was not set, Brumback said in the email, and later in the month Tranquillo expressed to town officials that he was not prepared to retire and intended to work for “several more years.”
“These counseling sessions have not resulted in any appreciable improvement and therefore I feel compelled to make a change,” Brumback said in the email.
The decision to end employment has drawn mixed reactions across the community including from town councilors including John Barry, who expressed concerns with how the situation was handled. Barry said Friday that he and other Democrats were not aware of the decision prior to finding out in the email, but several Republican council members said last week that Brumback was patient before making the decision.
Art Secondo, a former 10-year council member, further said he did not believe this was a decision that was made by Brumback alone.
Tranquillo is the third department head to leave since Brumback took over for former Town Manager John Weichsel, who retired after 44 years as CEO of the community last January. Former Recreation Director William Masci announced his retirement last spring and Health Director Charles Motes retired in December.
The complete email sent to Southington Town Council members is included below. For a copy of the letter to Tranquillo, see the PDF attached in the pictures and documents section at the top of the page.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my unpleasant duty to inform you that I have ended the employment of Tony Tranquillo effective Friday, January 6, 2012. I believed earlier that he and I had an agreement that would provide for his retiring in the near future but he changed his mind and has refused depart voluntarily.
I have met with Tony several times over the past 11 months to discuss standards of service and my expectations of him in the management of his department. I formally met with him and the Town Attorney on August 4 to express my concern that he was making no progress toward meeting my expectations and outlining all those areas I felt needed significant improvement. I further met with him and the Town Attorney on December 16 at which time he agreed that significant progress had not been made and understood my position. It was at this meeting that Mark and I felt as though he understood and agreed to retire. The only unanswered question was the date.
These counseling sessions have not resulted in any appreciable improvement and therefore I feel compelled to make a change.
The Director of Public Works as it has been designed is a critical component of the management team and thus must be held by an individual who both understands and supports to goals of the entire organization. I don’t believe that Tony is that individual.
It was my goal to make this change and allow Tony to retire on his terms but he has decided that we would rather not retire for several more years. This is an option I cannot support and still meet what I believe is the expectations of the Council and the community.
I am available to answer any additional questions you may have on this subject. Additionally, I have attached a copy of my letter to Tony dated today.
Garry Brumback ICMA-CM
Southington, CT 06489