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Norwich utilities commissioners reach terms to resolve GM Bilda’s ‘status’

December 29, 2018

Norwich — The Board of Public Utilities Commissioners expects to reach an agreement within the next two weeks that will “resolve all the issues regarding the status” of General Manager John Bilda with Norwich Public Utilities.

The board met for 90 minutes behind closed doors Friday evening and then conferred for another 30 minutes with board attorney Tony Palermino, who also talked privately with Bilda’s two attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, before the board voted unanimously to authorize Chairwoman Grace Jones to sign a “term sheet” outlining the proposed agreement.

Bilda was placed on indefinite paid administrative leave Nov. 15, a week after he and four other officials with the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative were indicted on federal corruption charges for their leadership roles in CMEEC’s hosting of lavish trips to the Kentucky Derby from 2013 through 2016, a 2015 trip to a West Virginia golf resort and luxury gifts for participants.

No documents were released to the media following Friday’s vote. Jones declined to comment following the meeting, except to say it was a “framework” for an agreement to resolve the status of Bilda’s employment.

Neither Jones nor Palermino would characterize the pending document as a separation agreement but said the “term sheet” signed by Jones on Friday would be flushed out in a final draft contract to “resolve all issues regarding his status with NPU.”

Palermino said he does not expect any changes to be made in the terms outlined Friday night.

A month prior to the Nov. 8 indictment, Bilda had announced plans to retire sometime in 2019. But Palermino said the pending agreement would not include provisions for Bilda’s retirement, saying that would be his decision.

Questions arose recently about the status of Bilda’s contract with NPU. Palermino has been researching documents relating to the general manager since being asked by the board to review his status of employment.

NPU officials have said Bilda, whose current salary is 18,500 to Bilda’s deferred compensation payment by the board.

Bilda’s attorneys, Parenteau and Madsen, declined to comment Friday night on the term sheet approved by the board.

c.bessette@theday.com

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