Report by Paula Antolini, August 17, 2022, 1:21PM EDT
At last night’s Wilton Board of Selectman (BOS) Special Meeting, the Board voted unanimously to appoint Bethel First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker to the position of Wilton Town Administrator, effective Sept. 7, 2022. The news comes as a surprise to Bethel residents as no official announcement had been made. Knickerbocker has served as the first selectman of Bethel for the last 13 years.
Knickerbocker will have to step down as Bethel’s first selectman in order to begin his three-year term as Wilton town administrator in September.
“The Wilton BOS had already planned for the new town administrator’s salary in the current budget at up to just under $200,000, although the final number is still to be determined,” according to Good Morning Wilton.
Besides voting to approve Knickerbocker’s new position, the Wilton BOS discussed the transition of First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslices’ role, and salary reduction by approximately $23K, whose responsibilities would also be reduced by the hiring of Knickerbocker. “The BOS had already built into the current fiscal year budget an assumed salary reduction from $142,999 to $120,000, but it required a formal approval with a vote to make it take effect as soon as Knickerbocker starts,” according to Good Morning Wilton.
According to the Bethel Town Charter, Selectman Richard Straiton will handle the position until a special election can be held. “Any such resignation shall become effective and the elected office shall be vacant upon the date specified therein or, if no date is specified, upon the date it is received by the Town Clerk. If such vacancy has not been filled by the Board of Selectmen within said sixty (60) days, and the vacancy is of a member of a board or commission, the remaining members of such board or commission shall fill such vacancy.” … “Vacancies on the Board of Selectmen shall be filled in the manner prescribed by the Connecticut General Statutes.” …“When a person vacating an office shall have been elected as a member of a political party, such vacancy shall be filled by the appointment of a member of the same political party.” … “An appointee to a vacancy in an elective office shall serve until a successor elected at a special election or at the next regular town election qualifies. A person elected at either a special election or a regular town election to fill an unexpired term shall serve the remainder of the term.”
According to the Town of Bethel website, “First Selectman Knickerbocker was elected to the office of First Selectman in November, 2009. Prior to his election to this post, Matt was a member of the Board of Education from 1999 to 2009, serving seven years as chairman.
“In addition to his responsibilities as the town’s chief elected official and de facto town manager, Matt is also working at the regional and state legislative levels to advance the interests Bethel residents and businesses. He is a board member and past chairman of the Connecticut Council of Small Towns, as well as a board member of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, where he also serves as co-chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
“He recently began a two-year term as the chair of the Board of Trustees of the Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency, a non-profit, member-owned insurance provider serving municipalities and public school districts throughout the state, and is also serving as the chair of the Housatonic Resource Recovery Authority, the regional waste management and recycling entity serving western Connecticut.
Prior to entering public service, Matt enjoyed a twenty-five year career in the consumer photo/electronics industry the Fujifilm USA Corporation in a variety of sales, marketing and general management positions.
“Knickerbocker has held leadership positions, including the Connecticut Coalition for Sustainable Material Management (CCSMM), the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM), the Housatonic Resource Recovery Authority (HRRA), Connecticut Council of Small Towns (COST) and the Connecticut Inter-local Risk Management Agency (CIRMA).”
All attempts to contact First Selectman Knickerbocker, beginning last Monday, have gone unanswered.
Photo: First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker (File photo, ©2016 BETHEL ADVOCATE News Media / Paula Antolini)