City officials are facing a challenging and sensitive situation as they work through handling the employment status of Meriden's city manager.
Last month, state police arrested Timothy Coon on a DUI charge and other violations, including driving the wrong way on a divided highway. This very serious incident was quickly addressed by Coon and city leadership.
Coon apologized and announced in a statement that he’d get help from the city’s Employee Assistance Program “in dealing with the root cause and the aftermath of this incident.”
Mayor Kevin Scarpati, City Council leadership and the city’s Legal Department issued a joint statement outlining the immediate plan. This included support for Coon to focus on his health with a temporary leave and for Fire Chief Kenneth Morgan to step in as acting city manager.
According to a Record-Journal story, at the City Council’s recent meeting the panel outlined rules for Coon’s return to work. That plan, approved unanimously by the council, will be put into a memorandum of understanding between the council and Coon. It states that Coon will follow all treatment recommendations and not drive city vehicles for the next three years.
At the council meeting, both residents and officials voiced a variety of views on what should happen next regarding Coon’s future with the city. Some urged support for Coon, others called for his termination as city manager.
Coon has served as city manager since September 2018 and his current compensation is slightly over $171,000 annually, according to RJ calculations based on coverage of his last contract. That contract expires in September.
The DUI incident appears to have been addressed in a swift and transparent way by those involved, but city leaders still have a lot to weigh as they contemplate Coon's upcoming contract. The public trust and the image of the city will no doubt factor into their thinking on this matter. Coon holds a key position and is a high-profile representative of the city.
Working through this situation, leadership must find an outcome that is fair to Coon even as it puts the city’s interests first.