MERIDEN – The city has promoted Associate City Attorney Stephanie Dellolio to city attorney.
Dellolio will replace Debbie Moore, who is retiring after almost 25 years. She was hired as associate city attorney in November and worked as a private attorney prior to that.
Corporation Counsel Michael Quinn, head of the legal department, said he chose Dellolio over five other external candidates interviewed.
“I think she’s going to be great, and if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have promoted her,” Quinn said.
Finalists were interviewed by a panel made up of Quinn, Wallingford Corporation Counsel Janis Small and Brig Smith, general counsel for the city of Middletown.
“I’m going to miss Debbie terribly and she leaves a big pair of shoes to be filled, however, Stephanie is absolutely up to the task, and I look forward to working with her in her new role,” Quinn said.
Moore’s last day is today.
Dellolio will make an annual salary of $120,000, according to City Manager Tim Coon. Moore and Dellolio didn’t return requests for comment.
“We’re losing a great employee and an outstanding attorney,” Quinn said of Moore, whom he promoted from associate attorney to city attorney in 2008. Moore is one of 58 longtime city employees retiring this year through a retirement incentive program offered by the city to save costs.
Quinn said he expects to fill the associate city attorney position by the end of the week. Three applicants for the city attorney position are being considered, Quinn said.
While Quinn, as corporation counsel, is technically the head of the law department, he said the city attorney acts as a “co-department head” overseeing day-to-day operations and also helps prepare the office’s annual budget. The corporation counsel position is part-time and appointed biennially.
The legal department was among those hit hardest by the retirement incentive program, with four of the department’s five staff members all taking the deal, including Moore, legal clerks Renate Herget and Patricia Michelson, and associate city attorney Jack Gorman, who Dellolio replaced in November.
The legal department’s staffing level has come up for debate in recent years. The department previously had a third staff attorney position, however, when that position became vacant in 2017, former city manager Guy Scaife chose not to fill it, despite Quinn saying the vacancy would “handicap” his already strapped department.
In 2018, Mayor Kevin Scarpati used his line-item veto authority to cut one of the department’s legal secretary positions from the City Council’s adopted budget, arguing the department could “restructure” its workload to operate with just one legal secretary. Quinn at the time said his department couldn’t handle its current workload with one fewer secretary, and the council voted 8-4 to override Scarpati’s veto.
Once all positions are filled, Quinn said he’s confident the department can handle its workload going forward, but added that he and Dellolio may determine another staff attorney is needed. In some cases, Quinn said it is more cost-effective to hire an attorney rather than outsource the work.