Burney assumes DPW chief duties

The search that began last September to replace retired Department of Public Works Director Tom Thurkettle ended Feb. 20 when the Board of Selectmen named Chris Burney, director of town facilities and energy, to lead the combined Department of Publics Works and Facilities.

This is a reorganization of the two departments that is a cost-saving pattern the town has used in other positions. Burney is also the facilities director for the schools, which pays him a stipend for that job.

“During this same time, I have come to realize there is an opportunity to reorganize the department in a manner that allows us to better serve the residents of Wilton,” said First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice. “I am recommending that we consolidate the responsibilities of the DPW and the facilities and energy director into one position, director of Public Works and Facilities.”

Burney, who has worked for the town for two years, will now manage a staff of 22 DPW workers and be responsible for 323 town roads, covering 127 miles, with 770 acres of town right-of-way, not counting town buildings, parking lots and grounds.

Thurkettle’s compensation as director of public works was $137,000 plus a town vehicle, according to Vanderslice. He lived in Stratford.

Burney, who lives in Norwalk, earns $119,600 and has no vehicle as director of town facilities and energy. His new pay rate will be $134,000, with no town vehicle.

Vanderslice recommended Burney for the job during the Board of Selectmen meeting at town hall.

“I’m happy to recommend Chris for this post,” Vanderslice said. The other selectmen agreed and Burney was congratulated. She spoke of Burney’s deep background in construction, public works and engineering.

She expressed gratitude to the interim public works director, Mike Ahern, for a job well done as the winter snowplowing season went by seamlessly, and to Jen Fasitelli and the other members of the DPW for their efforts over the last five months.

She also thanked members of the search committee, including police Chief John Lynch, Selectman Lori Bufano, former Planning and Zoning Chairman Joe Fiteni, and former Westport DPW Director Steven Edwards.