Four Ansonia employees suspended since Sept. 4 are scheduled to return to work Wednesday, Mayor James Della Volpe said.
The employees — James Hooker, Kevin Cegelka, John Tomasella and Leslie Jamison — had all received car tax proof of payment receipts from Ansonia Tax Collector Bridget Bostic.
The receipt, stamped or signed by the tax collector, stated they had paid their car taxes, when they allegedly had not paid.
Tomasella and Jamison were named by the city in a follow-up investigation triggered by the Valley Indy’s original story.
The reports raised questions of favoritism within the Ansonia tax office. A prosecutor is reviewing the matter. Bostic has since resigned.
On Tuesday, the four suspended employees participated in a “fact finding” hearing, Della Volpe said. Each employee was interviewed in separate sessions.
The hearings lasted roughly three hours, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. inside Ansonia City Hall. The proceedings were closed to the public, which is allowed under labor law.
The purpose of the session was to hear the employees’ account of how they received the car tax proof of payments from Bostic, Della Volpe said.
Disciplinary action against the four employees is possible. A report will be compiled from Tuesday’s hearing.
“There’s been no decision made in regards to what’s going to happen in terms of discipline. I haven’t received the full report yet, but I directed them to go back to work,” Della Volpe said. “I’m going to read the facts and then I’m going to make a determination of what type of discipline will be handed out.”
The hearing happened a day earlier than scheduled do to a scheduling conflict, the mayor said.
In an interview with the Valley Indy Aug. 30, Tomasella, who works for the city’s Department of Public Works, repeatedly said it was unfair to place him on suspension because of the tax collector’s action.
Tomasella said he did nothing other than explain his financial troubles to Bostic, who said, according to Tomasella, he was entitled to receive the car tax proof of payment.
Della Volpe said he could not comment on what the city employees said during the hearing.
The city has spent much of the last four weeks simultaneously instituting reforms on the tax office while probing to see whether the issues go deeper than the four employees named.
The mayor said he believed Bostic simply made a mistake.
“She was a very compassionate person. She made some poor judgments,” he said.
In August, Della Volpe recommended a number of reforms, including:
- “A list of both citywide delinquent taxpayers and city employee delinquent taxpayers shallbe prepared by the Tax Collector’s Office and be put on public display in written copy and posted on the city’s website.”
- “The Tax Collector’s Office shall compare both lists with DMV records of motor vehicles registered in the State of Connecticut and owned by Ansonia residents. This process shall identify delinquent taxpayers who have improperly succeeded in registering their motor vehicles.”
Bostic has been replaced on an interim basis by Stanley Gorzelany, who is being paid $40 per hour. Gorzelany was previously tax collector in Fairfield.