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May 22, 2008 Meeting Minutes
.TOWN OF EAST WINDSOR
CHARTER REVISION COMMISSION


Regular Meeting
May 22, 2008


***** Draft Document - Subject to Commission Review *****



The Meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Co-Chairman George Butenkoff in the Town Hall Meeting Room, 11 Rye Street, Broad Brook, CT.

ATTENDANCE:

Present:        Co-Chairman George Butenkoff, Co-Chairman John Matthews, Members Donald Arcari, Claire Badstubner,  Joyce Phillips, Scott Riach, Charles Riggott, Madeleine Thompson, and Bonnie Yosky,

Absent: Members Edward Farrell, and Karen Gaudreau

Co-Chairman Butenkoff read the Public Hearing Notice, which appeared in the Journal Inquirer on Thursday, May 15th.

PUBLIC HEARING/PUBLIC PARTICIPATION: The public is encouraged to provide their thoughts as succinctly as possible.   CRC (Charter Revision Commission) members will not comment on the merits of an idea at this meeting but may ask questions to clarify the proposal.   A time limit may be imposed:

Co-Chairman Butenkoff noted no one from the public was present to offer input.

MOTION: To CLOSE the Public Hearing of the East Windsor Charter Revision                        Commission held on May 22, 2008.

Philips moved/Riach seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:   Unanimous

ADDED AGENDA ITEMS:

MOTION: To ADD to the task list the items submitted by the First Selectman.

Matthews moved/Philips seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:   Unanimous

PREVIOUS MEETING MINUTES/comments and acceptance:

MOTION: To APPROVE the Minutes of May 8, 2008 as published.

Riach moved/Badstubner seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous

WRITTEN INPUT SUBMITTED TO CRC: Nothing available for review.

ADMINISTRATIVE HOUSEKEEPING/(a) Revisit Quorum requirements:

Brief discussion of quorum requirements.

ADMINISTRATIVE HOUSEKEEPING/(b)  Votes required to pass Charter Questions per Statute:

Co-Chairman Matthews indicated he believed the number to be seven (7) but he will review the statutory requirements further.

MOTION: To TABLE Agenda Item 6b - Votes required to pass Charter Questions per Statute.

Matthews moved/Arcari seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous

ADMINISTRATIVE HOUSEKEEPING/(c)  Milestone dates review:

The Commission reviewed, and revised, the milestone dates as follows:


First Public Hearing
5/22/2008
Draft Report
3/12/2009
CRC Second Public Hearing       
3/26/2009
Submit Draft to Board of Selectmen
4/09/2009
BOS to hold Public Hearing by May 23 (within 45 days after BOS receive draft)   

4/23/2009
BOS to recommend changes by June 7 (within 15 days after Public Hearing)
5/28/2009
CRC Final Report (within 30 days of June 7)     
6/11/2009
BOS approves or rejects final report by June 26 (within 15 days
6/25/2009
45 days for petition of 10% if rejected (Aug 10)
7/09/2009
Public approved charter in paper by July 25 (Sept 9)    
7/23/2009
BOS to approve to go to voters, go to Secretary of State
8/13/2009
Go to Ballot Printer    
8/27/2009
Absentee Ballot Available October 2     
9/24/2009
Election Day    
11/3/2009


MOTION: To UPDATE the Milestone Dates as revised above.

Matthews moved/Philips seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:   Unanimous

ADMINISTRATIVE HOUSEKEEPING/(d)  Query members for other items:

No additional items were brought up for discussion.

REVIEW OF CRC MEMBERS INPUT FOR PROPOSED REVISIONS/(a)  Prioritizing ideas for discussion:

1)      Split acceptance of Budget presentations - Board of Education vs. the Town and hold automatic referendums, but continue Town meeting process for public input.

        2)      Upgrade position of Treasurer to Finance Director

3)      Increase the amount (currently $20,000) requiring approval of a Town Meeting.

        4)      Planning and Zoning Commission should be elected.

        5)      No employee contracts can be signed unless approved by the Board of                     Finance Board of Selectmen and Town Meeting.

REVIEW OF CRC MEMBERS INPUT FOR PROPOSED REVISIONS/(b)  Discussion of top 5:

1)      Split acceptance of Budget presentations - Board of Education vs. the Town and  hold automatic referendums, but continue Town meeting process for public                input:

Commissioner Philips indicated she was against splitting the budgets, as she feltsplitting the budget puts the education budget in jeopardy.  She felt splitting the budget pits the young families against the seniors; Commissioner Arcari and Co-Chairman Butenkoff disagreed.   Discussion followed regarding how, or if, other towns split the budget components; Commissioner Arcari to research the issue.  Co-Chairman Matthews cited   the education budget in East Windsor as being 57% of the total package vs. 65 - 70% in other towns, he felt to split the budget might benefit the school system.  The consensus of      the Commission was to split the budget presentations; Commissioner Philips was against the proposal.  

Co-Chairman Butenkoff polled Commission members; the consensus was to send the budget to an automatic referendum.

Co-Chairman Butenkoff suggested holding the referendum in one location to cut costs and to avoid disruption of business in the Town Hall during work hours while voting occurs on the east side of town.  The consensus of the Commission was to continue holding the referendums in two locations - Town Hall and the Town Hall Annex - as it’s difficult to get people to vote now, and it would be confusing to voters to vote in one location for the referendums and two locations for the elections.  

Commissioner Arcari raised discussion on the proposal to limit the number of Referendums offered, if the Budget doesn’t pass after reaching that limit the Budget goes back to the amount which passed the previous year, and also to set the change at a specified percentage.  Commissioner Arcari felt budgets are historically inflated; if a budget doesn’t pass after three referendums they will go in with a realistic budget.  Comissioner Riggott proposed that the Fire Department is pretty realistic with their budget proposals; if they were forced to go back to a previous years budget they wouldn’t  be able to pay the fuel bill.  Commissioner Badstubner questioned the need for three referendums; Co-Chairman Butenkoff felt that was fair.  Co-chairman Butenkoff questioned the Commission’s ability under the charter to set a specific increase or decrease percentage; he also questioned Commissioner Gaudreau’s previous comment that a Charter question couldn’t offer a budget increase.  Co-chairman Butenkoff summarized that under Commissioner Arcari’s proposal if the Education Budget passed at the first referendum then it would go forward, while if the General Town Budget failed it would   continue to be subject to the three referendums until its final failure, at which time it would go back to the previous year’s budget.

Deputy Selectman Hayes arrived at the meeting apologizing for his late arrival while noting he had been required to attend another meeting earlier.  Co-chairman Butenkoff RECESSED the Regular Meeting to take Deputy Selectman Hayes comments as part of the Public Hearing.

Deputy Selectman Hayes thanked everyone for participating in this Commission.   He noted he is a Selectman, and has been in Town for 32 years.   His children all went through the school system; he is concerned about the funding of the budget.  He felt they have a good curriculum director.  Deputy Selectman Hayes suggested what happens next Thursday is very important; he felt there should be an automatic referendum.  He also felt the CEO/First Selectman’s pay rate should be on a par with surrounding towns; he also felt that recommendation should be in the Charter to encourage other qualified people to run for office.  

Co-chairman Butenkoff questioned Deputy Selectman Hayes his opinion on a split budget into an Education Budget and a General Town Budget?  Deputy Selectman Hayes felt it looks grim to the taxpayer to see one large budget; he felt that splitting the budget is a good idea.  

Co-chairman Butenkoff questioned if there is anything that Deputy Selectman Hayes feels is not working in the current Charter?   Deputy Selectman Hayes suggested the Town should encourage development of the North Road commercial district, although that probably would require bonding.  He noted the Town’s need to increase commercial business, as the Town needs that tax base.
Deputy Selectman Hayes had no further suggestions.

MOTION: To RECONVENE the Regular Meeting.

Philips moved/Badstubner seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous

The Commission continued discussion of specific Charter language.

PROPOSED REVISIONS:
Section 9-6  Annual Budget Meeting and Referendum
Page 33

Paragraph 1:    The Annual Budget Meeting shall be held on the first Tuesday in May and shall receive and consider a resolution for the adoption of the budget recommended by the Board of Finance.     
                NO CHANGE.

NEW
PARAGRAPH 2:    THE BUDGET WILL BE SPLIT BETWEEN THE BOARD OF EDUCATION BUDGET AND THE TOWN BUDGET.  THE REFERENDUM WILL CONSIST OF A BOARD OF EDUCATION BUDGET AND A GENERAL TOWN BUDGET, AND QUESTIONS WILL BE ADDED ASKING IF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION BUDGET IS TOO HIGH OR TOO LOW, AND THE GENERAL TOWN BUDGET IS TOO HIGH AND TOO LOW.

Current Paragraph 2
becomes Paragraph 3:  At the conclusion of the discussion on the resolution on adoption                                 of the budget recommended by the Board of Finance to the Annual                         Budget Meeting, the moderator shall adjourn this Annual Budget                          Meeting to a date certain on a weekday not less than 7 days nor                                  more than 14 days thereafter for a referendum vote by voting                            machine  AND PAPER BALLOTS by those eligible by law to cast                             ballots for that purpose.   All ballots shall be cast in accordance                             with the provisions of the General Statutes between the hours of 6                               a.m. and 8 p.m. at regular polling places used during municipal                                 elections.

Current Paragraph
3  becomes
Paragraph 4:    If the majority of the ballots cast at any referendum of the adjourned Annual Budget Meeting on a budget recommended by the Board of Finance shall be “Yes” the budget shall be deemed approved as of the date of such affirmative vote.                
NO CHANGE.
Current Paragraph
4 becomes
Paragraph 5:    An official copy of the approved budget at any referendum setting forth appropriations shall be filed by the Board of Finance with the Town Clerk within one week following such approval.
                        NO CHANGE

MOTION: To TAKE A FIVE MINUTE BREAK.

Yosky moved/Butenkoff seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:   Unanimous

The Commission RECESSED at 8:00 p.m. and RECONVENED at 8:10 p.m.

REVIEW OF CRC MEMBERS INPUT FOR PROPOSED REVISIONS/(b)  Discussion of top 5 (continued):

1)      Split acceptance of Budget presentations - Board of Education vs. the Town and hold automatic referendums, but continue Town meeting process for public         input (continued):

Commissioner Matthews returned discussion to the issue of limiting the number of referendums which result in a failed/rejected/defeated budget proposal.  He cited previous strategy to return the same - unaltered - budget proposal to a subsequent referendum vote.   Commissioner Matthews felt such action was inappropriate; if a budget is defeated something within the budget proposal must change before resubmission for a subsequent referendum.  He suggested the “higher or lower” question should be refined to reflect a specific percentage change to guide future budget submissions.   Commissioner Arcari felt the BOF/BOS/BOE would be more motivated to make significant changes if a percentage were recommended.  Discussion continued regarding budget proposals vs. public opinion.  Co-chairman Butenkoff polled Commissioners regarding limiting the number of failed referendums; 5 Commissioners were in favor, and 3 Commissioners were   opposed.                                                               

PROPOSED CHARTER CHANGE:
Section 9-7 Rejection of budget
Page 33:        Should the referendum vote reject the budget, another referendum shall be                       reconvened by the Moderator without additional signatures within                                fourteen days.  However, a public hearing will be held within seven days                        of the referendum prior to the second referendum.  Prior to another                      referendum, after any consultation with the Board of Selectmen and the                  Board of Education the Board of Finance deems advisable, determine                      those modifications, if any, to the rejected budget the Board of Finance                        deems appropriate.  A summary of any revisions made by the Board of                     Finance to the rejected budget shall be made available before the second                         referendum.
                THE NUMBER OF BUDGET REFERENDUMS WILL BE LIMITED                        TO THREE (3).  IF, AFTER THE THIRD REFERENDUM THE                       BUDGET FAILS THE BUDGET WILL REVERT TO THE                              PREVIOUSYEAR’S BUDGET PLUS THE COST OF LIVING.

                In the event the budget is not adopted by June twentieth, the Board of                  Selectmen, with the approval of the Board of Finance, may call one or                   more Special Town Meeting, and appropriate funds by way of tax                          anticipation notes to meet necessary obligations at the budget levels then                       in effect, from July first to the approval of the budget, or with the approval          of the Board of Finance, may make a rate bill upon its last completed list                      for the amount necessary to pay current expenses of the Town.                                   Immediately upon approval of the budget, the Board of Finance shall set                         the tax rate and notify the Tax Collector forthwith.   Official copies of the                    budget as finally approved shall be filed by the Board of Finance with                  the Town Clerk within five days of the approval.

2)      Upgrade position of Treasurer to Finance Director:

        The consensus of the Commission favored upgrading the position of Treasurer to  Finance Director.   Commissioner Yosky felt the position should specify         qualifications, i.e. an MBA, years of experience, etc.  She indicated she would                 like to see a comparison of advantages vs. disadvantages for this upgrade.  The         following subcommittee was formed to review how         the position of Finance         Director is handled by surrounding towns, and how the position works    with/relates to the Board of Finance:  Commissioners Riggott, Philips, and  Matthews.

3)      Increase the amount (currently $20,000) requiring approval of a Town Meeting:

All Commission members favored increasing the amount of expenditures requiring approval via a Town Meeting; various Commission members offered amounts ranging from $25,000 to $40,000.   The compromise amount being considered was $29,000 to $30,000.

MOTION: To INCREASE the amount of expenditures requiring approval via a Town meeting to $30,000.

        Arcari moved/Reich seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:   Unanimous

PROPOSED CHARTER CHANGE:
Section  ????????? Section 11-5 Actions requiring a Town Meeting ??????
Page ???????? 38 ?????????

4)      Planning and Zoning Commission should be elected:
The consensus of the Commissioners favored requiring the Planning and Zoning Commission to be comprised of elected members.  The possibility of term limits was discussed, but not included in the language revision.

PROPOSED CHARTER CHANGE:
Section 3-2 Elected Town officers, Boards and Commissions:
Page 10:

a)      First Selectmen.........
b)      Board of Selectmen.............
c)      Board of Education.............
d)      Board of Assessment Appeals.............
e)      Zoning Board of Appeals....................
f)      Constables........................................
g)      Board of Finance...............................
H)      PLANNING AND ZONING...........................NEW SECTION

PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION - AT EACH REGULAR TOWN ELECTION, THERE SHALL BE ELECTED A SUFFICIENT NUMBER OF    MEMBERS TO THE PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION TO MAINTAIN ITS NUMBER AT FIVE MEMBERS AND THREE ALTERNATES FOR A TERM OF FOUR YEARS EACH.

THE PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION SHALL HAVE DUTIES IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE GENERAL STATUTES AND THE ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING THIS COMMISSION.   NO MORE THAN TWO ALTERNATE MEMBERS SHALL BE REGISTERED TO THE SAME POLITICAL PARTY AND   NO ALTERNATE MAY BE A MEMBER OF THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS.

CHAPTER SEVEN - BOARDS, AUTHORITIES, COMMISSIONS AND ASSOCIATIONS
Section 7-18 Planning and Zoning Commission
Page 26  

Delete this section which establishes the Planning and Zoning Commission as a Board appointed by the Board of Selectmen.

5)      No employee contracts can be signed unless approved by the Board of                     Finance Board of Selectmen and Town Meeting.

        Commissioner Matthews gave a summarization of a recent contract written         between the Police Commission and the Chief of Police; he noted that contract   was signed by the Chairman of the Police Commission rather than the First       Selectmen.  When that decision was questioned the Town Attorney referenced      ordinance language which gave powers to the Police Commission as governed by    the State Statutes.  Commissioner Matthews felt the Charter should specify that         contract employees (department heads) should be considered “at will” employees.          Co-chairman Butenkoff suggested no employee contracts will be executed and      approved unless approved by the BOF/BOS and Town Meeting; approval must         follow the full path to be completed.  

The Commissioners discussed the multi-year contracts, and their affect on the ability to hold qualified personnel.  Commissioners Matthews and Philips will research the affect/use of multi-year contracts.

Co-chairman Butenkoff advised the Commission that if the Town Attorney gives a legal    opinion about a Town Meeting or contract negotiations the method to oppose his opinion is to go to court.   To avoid that situation Co-chairman Butenkoff suggested creating a Citizen’s Board of Appeals, to which the Town Attorney would present his case.  The Town Attorney should be required to work off his retainer and not b paid additional funds for that presentation.

Based on above discussions the Commission considered the following Charter questions:

POTENTIAL CHARTER QUESTIONS:

1)      Shall the Board of Finance/Board of Selectmen present a split budget proposal   reflecting one budget amount for the Board of Education and a second budget     amount for the General Town Budget?

2)      Shall the Board of Finance/Board of Selectmen send approval of the Annual Budget to an automatic referendum?

3)      Should the failed Annual Budget proposal be higher than the amount rejected?

4)      Should the failed Annual Budget proposal be lower than the amount rejected?

5)      Should the Board of Finance/Board of Selectmen limit the number of failed budget        referendums to three (3), at which time the budget amount approved is the same as the previous year’s budget plus the cost of living?

REVIEW OF CRC MEMBERS INPUT FOR PROPOSED REVISIONS/(c) Brainstorm for additional items, no counter points:

Nothing discussed.

DISCUSSION ON PRIOR FAILED CHARTER/(a)  What is salvageable, what’s not?

No discussion.

2nd PUBLIC PARTICIPATION:

No one present.

GUIDANCE FOR NEXT MEETING AGENDA:

The Commission considered the following items:
        1)      Mission statement
        2)      Reflect Code of Ethics in charter
3)      Review/revise Selectman’s section.  Commissioner Yosky to meet with First Selectman Menard for clarification of list previously presented to Commission, and to request her attendance at a future meeting.

ADJOURN:

MOTION: To ADJOURN this Meeting at 9:15 p.m.

Arcari moved/Riach seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous 



Respectfully submitted,

_______________________________________________________________________
Peg Hoffman, Recording Secretary, East Windsor Charter Revision Commission