MERIDEN — New City Manager Tim Coon officially started his tenure Tuesday, replacing the interim manager, Fire Chief Ken Morgan.
“I’ve had a great first day so far,” Coon said during an interview in his office.
Coon, hired by the City Council on Aug. 6, was sworn in Tuesday morning and spent much of his first day meeting with city staff, including outgoing Public Works Director Bob Bass. Bass, who retired Tuesday after 15 years, took Coon on a tour of the department and its projects on his last day.
“I’m excited to be here,” Coon said. “Like I’ve been saying all along, Meriden has a lot to offer, and I’m really excited to be a part of that.”
This is Coon’s first position leading a municipality after working 20 years as the director of field services and curriculum manager at the Connecticut Police Academy on Preston Avenue, a position that put him in charge of training all municipal officers in the state. Coon’s resume includes over 30 years in the U.S. Army Reserve and time spent as a Democrat on Glastonbury’s Board of Education and Town Council.
Coon said he is focused on meetings with each department head in the coming weeks to get up to speed on their challenges and successes.
Coon doesn’t plan to make any drastic changes in his first weeks.
“Ken’s done a great job keeping the city running and I’m not going to make any changes. Not in the first week or two, that’s for darn sure,” Coon said. “I’m just enjoying learning all the neat stuff about the city.”
Coon’s hiring last month ended an eight-month search that began in December, when the City Council voted 8-4 to terminate Guy Scaife as city manager due to escalating discord and tensions between Scaife and department heads. Morgan, who has a degree in public administration, served as acting city manager following Scaife’s firing. Morgan couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.
One of Coon’s first challenges as city manager will be grappling with cuts to the police department’s neighborhood initiative and school resource officer programs. Police Chief Jeffry Cossette said cuts recently made to his budget by the City Council and mayor forced him to cut the neighborhood program completely for the time being and eliminate three of five resource officers assigned to schools. Several residents have opposed the cuts, which the council and mayor made in an effort to lower taxes following a referendum process.
Coon said he hopes the city can find a way to reinstate the neighborhood and school assignments. The changes will take effect Sept. 15, Cossette said.
“My hope is that we can figure out a way to preserve the program in some way, shape or form, and that means putting all the minds together,” he said.
Despite his background in law enforcement, Coon said doesn’t plan to manage the police department any differently.
“That’s the chief’s job. I gotta trust my chief,” said Coon, who has known and worked with Cossette over the years from his position with the police academy.
While Coon has lived in Glastonbury for several years, he said he’s become very familiar with Meriden while working at the academy’s offices for 20 years. He will have to eventually move to the city, as required by the City Charter.