CHARTER REVISION COMMISSION
PUBLIC HEARING &
REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
February 14, 2005
Mr. Leborious opened the public hearing at 7:30 and read the legal notice published on February 3, 2005 in the Journal Inquirer:
The legal voters of the Town of East Windsor are hereby warned that a public hearing will be held by Charter Revision Commission on Monday, February 14, 2005 at 7:30 p.m. at the Town Hall, 11 Rye Street, Broad Brook. Purpose of hearing is to take public comments on the revisions to the Town of East Windsor Charter before substantive work is begun by the Committee.
SCOTT RIACH – 32 WINDSORVILLE ROAD
Mr. Riach would like to see the way of government stay the same – elected. This is a small town, not Enfield, Bloomfield or Avon, and the Norman Rockwell portrait in the meeting room says it all. The Town does not want to lose its freedom of speech.
Mr. Riach felt a change of voting districts is important, in that one more needs to be added. The last election was a big one, as he stood outside Town Hall he noted people leaving as the lines were too long.
MARY BUCKLEY, 58 PROSPECT HILL ROAD
She is the Director of Emergency Management, an agency previously referred to as Civil Preparedness. The agency name and any reference to the agency should be changed to “Office of Emergency Management, Division of Homeland Security”. Later some discussion took place if it was necessary to add the latter part regarding Homeland Security as that is a federal agency, which could change its name, but the Office of Emergency Management is a function that will remain in East Windsor, so titled. Ms. Buckley will look into that further.
RAND STANLEY – RYE STREET
Mr. Stanley stated that the Commission needs to look at changing the form of government. A budget of over $25 million requires an individual hired and paid for day to day operations. This will not take away rights of the people. The Town needs someone who is educated and trained, who can raise the bar on how to manage the town appropriately (with that said, no disrespect to current First Selectman). The Commission should explore and take a look at this scenario and put it before the people, educate the people. It is not taking away and rights of free speech. The information needs to be given to the voters on how important such a position is to the growth of the town, not for next year, but for ten years down the road, as the Town is growing fast and there is not a corner untouched by the growth.
The Town is attracting new people and business and someone needs to balance the effect of a $25-30 million budget. No business with those numbers would go without a trained individual at the helm.
MARIE DESOUSA, RICE ROAD
The Associations in Town (Ambulance, Library, Cemetery) need to have their roles defined as part of the Charter and audits need to be done.
The Town Manager concept needs to be investigated, she is not sure what form she prefers, but it is important to look at the concept and present the pros and cons to the citizens.
Mr. Leborious closed the hearing at 7:40 pm.
I. CALL MEETING TO ORDER
Mr. LeBorious called the meeting to order at 7:30
Attendance: Richard LeBorious, Chairman, John Parda, Peter Nevers, Ralph Saunders, Noreen Farmer, Edward Filipone, Joseph Roberts, Kathy Bilodeau.
Unable to Attend: Cliff Nelson
III. ADDED AGENDA ITEMS – None
Ms. Farmer and Mr. Roberts did meet with the school and students regarding their input on the Charter Revision. The students were provided with a copy of the Charter and the annual report. The school is looking to get two kids from each class interested so they can rotate attending meetings. It went well and the school will be in touch.
Mr. Nevers talked with the Lions Club and expressed that the Commission is seeking input on any suggestions now as the revision to the Charter begins.
Mr. Nevers will speak with the Rotary Club in the future
Mr. Roberts is meeting with the Chamber of Commerce next month.
V. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
DONALD ARCARI, HARRINGTON ROAD
He would like to see a referendum to pass a budget instead of a town meeting. Also the budget should be in two separate pieces, education and general budget.
VI. PREVIOUS MINUTES
a. January 27, 2005 meeting
MOTION: To accept the minutes of January 27, 2005, as submitted
Made by Mr. Nevers, seconded by Ms. Bilodeau
ALL MEMBERS IN FAVOR. MOTION CARRIED
VII. PUBLIC HEARING RESULTS/DISCUSSION
Concern was expressed as the turn out was not large for the first public hearing. The Commission does not want to see people come in the end to shoot down revisions made. The idea of looking at what type of Town government to pursue was discussed at length. The Commission will meet with Town Managers from area municipalities to hear discussion and present questions. Ideas on how to get the information out to the public were discussed, such as a flyer with pros and cons or a public forum run by an area college. The Commission wants to make sure the public is well informed about the choices in government and when they get a feel for how the community is leaning, then they can revise the charter accordingly.
VIII. BOARD OF SELECTMEN INPUT ON SUGGESTED CHARTER REVISION(s)
Board of Selectmen members present: Roberts, Balf, Sinsigallo (Regina and Crouch unable to attend due to tonight’s Building Committee meeting)
Mrs. Roberts outlined that the Board of Selectmen have not discussed Charter Revisions yet and anything stated tonight by Selectmen are individual suggestions for revision – not a consensus of the Board of Selectmen.
Ms. Roberts went through her copy of the charter and made several suggestions, outlined below:
any vote on the Charter separate out the questions so as to not have a global pass/fail;
review ordinances after 1998 to make sure they correspond with the Charter;
Sections regarding boards/commissions and agencies can be very specific, including how to seat people on the Board these can be edited to reflect the purpose and authority (i.e., statute, ordinance driven) rather than minute detail which is represented on some, not all. If the statutes are reflected, then any statutory change will be inherent in the Charter. The document should be streamlined, let specifics be driven by government based on time and circumstance home rules section of statutes.
· Board of Finance budget deadlines are time constraining as they are currently set up. It is suggested that they all be moved back in time one month (i.e., January 15 should be December 15, etc.) the CIP dates are fine.
· The Town of Portland has a limit on budget referendums this is an idea that can be explored as repeated referendums present problems in several arenas of town government.
· Vacancies in elected versus appointed needs to be specified in an elected office appointment has to be filled by member of same political party, but in an appointed position, it can be any affiliation.
· Section 6.3 is too vague and needs to be more distinct. Currently the Chairman of the Board/Commission indicates there is a problem and the First Selectmen’s office sends a series of three letters.
· Other appointed officials should include, full-time Park and Recreation Director, full-time Zoning Enforcement Officer and full-time Engineer/Director of Public Works
· 7.4 should reference ordinances adopted since last revision (River Commission, Historical Commission, Veterans Commission).
· In accordance with the Plan of Conservation and Development the Inland Wetlands Conservation Commission should be split into two agencies. The current Commission is busy with regulatory actions that the conservation portion is hard pressed to be addressed.
· 7.5 Building Code Board of Appeals has never been staffed, maybe another provision to provide for appeals can be made.
· 7.17 ambiguous dissolution at town meeting cannot turn around what the charter has put in place.
· 7.19 – 7.22 should be more generic (for example VNA subcontracts services due to manpower)
· 7.23 – Pension Board. It is not outlined what they do or where authority comes from a pension attorney has spoken to this board.
· Annual Town report is currently prepped and published by the Board of Finance maybe another entity could help with preparation of the report, with the BOF doing final review, as this is a lot to ask of a volunteer.
· The section on the treasurer has redundant language to be corrected.
· 10-1 calls have been made to Town Attorney as to what should go to town meeting and what does not. This is a tough area and this area has to be more inclusive.
· Town Meeting by petition 20 signatures seems to few, are there statute parameters outlining how many signatures are needed?
· 10-8 Town meeting with Board of Finance involvement should read “if any funding required”. (example approval of town road not a BOF function.)
· 7.19 references volunteer ambulance association, they are now paid.
· Explore concept of an organizational chart, as a companion to the Charter.
IX. CONTINUED REVIEW OF CHARTER AND DISCUSSION OF POTENTIAL REVISION(S)
The Commission wants to provide opportunities to educate the public on the various options of government, so as to get a direction and to avoid a public outcry when a draft revision is in place. The Commission needs to find the form of government which makes a good fit for East Windsor. The timeframes within which the Commission has to act were discussed as well, as the Commission does not want to rush this process.
Local Town Managers will be in to talk to the Committee at the March 24 meeting, if their schedules permit. The avenues of a public forum to outline the forms of government to educate the people will be investigated, as well as the cost of a flyer in the Reminder with a “cheat sheet” listing of the forms of government options. It was also suggested that when the Commission is discussing sensitive areas of the Charter, the public be advised when those portions are slated to be discussed, as the Commission wants as much public participation as possible.
MOTION: To adjourn at 9:15 p.m.
Made by Mr. Nevers, seconded by Mr. Roberts
ALL MEMBERS IN FAVOR. MOTION CARRIED.
Cynthia D. Croxford