A former bank executive who has served as Ansonia’s comptroller for the past two years is no longer working for the city.
William Nimons, who is also the president of the Board of Education, said he was told by Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti Thursday that his appointment as the city’s comptroller was not renewed.
Cassetti said he made the move because of an $800,000 “hole” that was recently discovered in the budget, and a perceived conflict of interest between Nimons’ position as comptroller and his leadership of the school board.
Nimons, who earned roughly $50,000 annually in the comptroller position, disputed those claims, saying the dismissal was “bogus” and politically motivated.
But he said he won’t challenge his dismissal. Instead, he said he’ll spend more time advocating for the city’s public schools through his role on the school board.
“I’m a big boy,” Nimons said during an interview in his office at City Hall Friday. “Their loss.”
Nimons has been a prominent figure in the lower Naugatuck Valley business and philanthropy community for decades.
An Air Force veteran, Nimons is a former senior vice president at Naugatuck Valley Savings & Loan.
In 2006, the Valley United Way awarded Nimons with the Charles H. Flynn Humanitarian Award, the Valley’s most prestigious honor for community service.
Nimons serves as the Valley Community Foundation’s treasurer. He has also served in community service roles at Griffin Hospital, the Valley United Way, and the Boys & Girls Club.
Cassetti said Friday that he asked Nimons to step down because of an $800,000 “hole” in the city’s budget for 2016-2017.
In February Cassetti proposed a $63,047,918 budget that, if enacted, would see the mill rate decrease slightly.
But the tax board voted Monday on a $63,693,382 spending plan that would actually increase property taxes slightly.
Cassetti said the tax board discovered discrepancies in the accounting of bond funds for demolition on Olson Drive and insurance, among other items.
“There was a hole in the budget of about $800,000 that he missed. It was going to make an increase in taxes,” the mayor said.
“When I found out there was this hole, I was very upset about it,” the mayor said, adding that he still wants to deliver a tax decrease.
“I’m tearing up the budget and redoing everything to see where we can save,” he said.
Click the play button below to listen to Cassetti discuss the move.
Nimons disputed the mayor’s claims.
He said the “hole” referenced by Cassetti was really the result of changing revenue estimates on state grants.
Nimons gave the tax board the updated numbers Monday, he said, a day after he found out about them.
“There’s no hole in the budget,” he said. “Budgets are fluid. Budgets are fungible. And numbers change. He had a budget that was balanced, with a tax cut, and the BOAT didn’t accept it. I was nervous about some of the numbers in there but the reality is we don’t know what the state’s going to do, and we still don’t know what the state’s going to do.”
Conflict Of Interest?
The mayor also said Nimons’ role as school board president is a conflict of interest with his role as comptroller.
Nimons pointed out he’s been involved with the school board before he was appointed to the comptroller’s position soon after Cassetti took office.
“When I took the job two and a half years ago I was president of the board,” Nimons said. “If I had a conflict of interest then, what’s the difference now? He can say anything he wants.”
Cassetti said he thought Nimons was giving preference to the the Board of Education.
“I want to give the Board of Ed what they need but we can’t sustain it every year,” the mayor said. “Every year it seems like there’s going to be a fight with the Board of Ed.”
Cassetti’s budget proposal called for an increase to the school district of about $750,000. He also wants the teachers to open their contract and agree to a lower-cost health insurance plan. Talks are ongoing.
Nimons said he was always able to distinguish his work for the city from his advocacy for the school system.
He said he always recused himself from school board discussions that impacted his daughter-in-law, who works as an administrator in the school district.
Nimons said he told the mayor he should be careful when throwing conflict of interest allegations around.
“I could give you conflicts of interest all over the city,” Nimons said. “There’s conflicts everywhere.”
Nimons said the mayor’s reasons for dismissing him are “bogus.”
“I’ve done my job. I’ve been very honest. I’ve been very ethical,” he said he told the mayor Thursday. “But if that’s what you guys want then oh well.”
He said the dismissal was politically motivated, but declined to go into more detail as to how or why.
Nimons said he’ll put “120 percent” effort into his role as school board president. He said he regrets not being able to finish this year’s budget, or a five-year capital plan that’s tentatively scheduled to go to a referendum later this year.
“I“m just disappointed, that’s all I can say,” Nimons said. “When I want to do something, I want to finish it. When I’m stopped in mid-track and can’t finish it, it’s a disappointment to me.”
The mayor said the city will look to recruit a “budget director” to fill Nimons’ role.
Cassetti said he wishes Nimons well.
“He’s a great man,” he said.