Severance & Vacation Pay To Kupchick, Others Questioned In Fairfield

FAIRFIELD, CT — A policy that allows former Fairfield First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick and other former officials to receive severance and accrued vacation payments is under scrutiny, after the Board of Finance questioned the matter last week.

Kupchick, who is now a Selectwoman, received more than $28,000 in pay, just over $11,000 of which was severance, and the remaining nearly $17,000 was unused vacation pay.

Others receiving payments were former Chief of Staff Jackie Bertolone (nearly $9,000 in severance and more than $5,500 in accrued vacation pay), and former Town Administrative Officer Tom Bremer (more than $25,000 in severance and close to $22,000 in vacation pay), the Connecticut Examiner reported.

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“It’s a bit of a mystery,” First Selectman Bill Gerber told the board last week of the policy and its origin, adding, through a spokesperson, that he “does not feel it is appropriate for the chief elected official of the Town to receive a severance payment for losing an election.”

Gerber was seeking an appropriation from the finance group to pay the former officials; the board tabled the request for the time being.

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In a statement to Patch, Kupchick said the policy was in place prior to her election to First Selectwoman in 2019.

“The severance terms, as outlined in the town policy for Non-Union Department Heads and Public Officials, were established before my term in office,” Kupchick said. “Following my election loss, Human Resources Director Cathleen Simpson apprised me of my post-employment benefits, encompassing COBRA, unused vacation payout, and a severance package. For inquiries regarding my eligibility, I encourage you to consult Ms. Simpson, who, as HR Director, made the determination. It is important to note that I did not actively pursue a severance package; rather, it was offered to me as an eligible employee by the Human Resources department.”

Patch reached out to Simpson for comment, but did not receive a reply.

“At this time, the administration is investigating the history and validity of the policy, as well as the other questions asked by the Board of Finance,” Lisa Clair, Communications Director for the Gerber Administration, told Patch. “We’ll be following the appropriate process to amend the policy.”

Kupchick said that some changes were made to the policy a couple of years ago as it pertains to non-union department heads, in an effort to help attract talent for town jobs, but the other aspects of the policy were already in place.

“I don’t know why Elected [officials] were added to Public [officials].” Kupchick said. “The entire document was worked on by the former and current HR directors, who are both attorneys. I signed off because the town was having trouble attracting talent to director positions, which was the reason HR wanted to update the policy.”

She added, “Honestly, I wasn’t aware that the [First Selectwoman] position was included in the policy at the time when it was revised two years ago.”

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