MERIDEN — The City Council this week appointed city attorney Emily Holland as acting city manager as it seeks to fill the job permanently.
Holland replaces Police Chief Roberto Rosado who had been acting in the role for three weeks following the resignation of City Manager Timothy Coon. Coon is currently on medical leave and officially exits the position in January.
Holland said after the 8-2 council vote Monday that she was confident the law department had enough staff and expertise to cover the city’s legal affairs while she turns her attention to other matters.
Holland has worked for the city since 2021 and as outside counsel before being hired full time. She has a bachelor’s degree in music and a law degree from Syracuse University. She has been a lawyer for 15 years and has worked in municipal litigation since 2010. She is admitted to practice in the Connecticut state courts, the District of Connecticut, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court.
“I thoroughly enjoy working for the city of Meriden and am happy to fill the role to keep the city moving forward,” Holland stated in an email.
Holland’s compensation as acting city manager was available Tuesday, but the paperwork should be finalized soon, she said.
The discussion of selecting an acting city manager occurred during a closed-door executive session where councilors weighed the former practice of having two department heads assume the position in a rotation. Part of the challenge centered on pulling department heads and resources from the police and fire departments for the months-long city manager search.
“But the same could also be said about the legal department,” said Mayor Kevin Scarpati. “Ultimately, it was the council’s decision.”
We The People Councilor Bob Williams and Republican Ray Ouellet opposed Holland’s appointment.
“Chief Rosado has done the job for three weeks, and the department heads are happy,” Williams said. “Why fix it if it’s not broken.”
Scarpati said the role is for 90 days and will be evaluated and changed if necessary. Scarpati and others anticipate a long search process. Rosado will work with Holland during the transition. City clerk salary
In other business, the council set the salary for new City Clerk-elect Michael Cardona after a discussion about his experience. The current City Clerk Denise Grandy earns over $85,000 based on eight years of experience. While calculating inflation, Minority Leader Republican Dan Brunet proposed setting $81,000 as a starting salary.
Williams challenged that amount, and proposed setting the salary at $75,000 and increasing it to $85,000 once Cardona obtains city clerk certification.
“It goes hand and hand with experience,” Williams said. “It’s not personal.”
Williams’ proposed changes were voted down and the council voted to set the city clerk salary at $81,000.
The council also discussed whether it wants to join two national class-action lawsuits against 3M Corp. and DuPont for chemical contamination in groundwater caused by chemicals used to make Teflon in cookware and certain fire retardants. Holland recommended opting out until the city can conduct testing on its water supply. Opting into the lawsuit would bar the city from suing the two companies in the future. The deadline for municipalities to decide is Dec. 4.
“My feeling is that a number of utilities will opt out,” said Public Utilities Director Richard Meskill. “It’s too early. We are testing our water.”
The council voted to opt out of the lawsuit, with Democrats Richard Fontanella and Larue Graham opposing the measure.
The city has begun testing for polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) The per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of chemicals used to make fluoropolymer coatings and products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. The Utilities Department will issue a public report when the testing is complete, Meskill said.