TOWN OF EAST WINDSOR
CHARTER REVISION COMMISSION
June 12, 2008
***** Draft Document - Subject to Commission Review *****
The Meeting was called to order at 7:01 p.m. by Co-Chairman John Matthews in the Town Hall Meeting Room, 11 Rye Street, Broad Brook, CT.
Present: Co-Chairman John Matthews, Co-Chairman George Butenkoff, Members Donald Arcari (arrived at 8:15 p.m.), Edward Farrell, Joyce Phillips, Scott Riach, Charles Riggott, Madeleine Thompson, and Bonnie Yosky,
Absent: Claire Badstubner, and Karen Gaudreau.
ADDED AGENDA ITEMS: None.
PREVIOUS MEETING MINUTES/comments and acceptance:
The Minutes of Regular Meeting dated May 22, 2008 were tabled.
PUBLIC PARTICIPATION: None.
WRITTEN INPUT SUBMITTED TO CRC: None.
ADMINISTRATIVE HOUSEKEEPING/(a) Milestone dates review:
The milestone dates reflected in the Minutes of Regular Meeting dated May 22, 2008 were reviewed and accepted as presented.
ADMINISTRATIVE HOUSEKEEPING/(b) Query members for others items: None.
REVIEW OF CRC MEMBERS INPUT FOR PROPOSED REVISIONS/(c) 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:
Regarding the split acceptance of Budget presentations Commissioner Yosky indicated many people she spoke with favored the split budget option. The proposed charter language needs to echo the charter questions - is the BOE Budget too high, is the BOE Budget too low; is the General Town Budget too high; is the General Town Budget too low? These questions will continue to be reflected as ballot questions. Co-Chairman Butenkoff suggested language regarding the automatic referral of the budget to referendum needs to be added to the current charter, as well being reflected as a ballot question. The Commission suggested the language regarding the three referendum limit should be part of the proposed budget section.
Discussion followed regarding the impact of the three referendum option with failure of passage returning the budget to the previous year’s figures plus cost of living increase. The Commission cast the following vote on this proposal:
MOTION: IF THE BUDGET FAILS THREE (3) TIMES IT AUTOMATICALLY REVERTS TO THE PREVIOUS BUDGET PLUS A CIP COST OF LIVING INCREASE.
Butenkoff moved/Riach seconded/
VOTE: In Favor: 5-Butenkoff/Matthews/Riach/Thompson/Yosky
DISCUSSION: Co-Chairman Butenkoff felt the three referendum option was fair based on input from the public. He indicated he disagreed with the Board of Finance’s approach to send the same budget back for a second vote. Various Commissioners voiced their opinions; some felt the BOF’s decision was unwise and would result in a greater failure, some felt to send the same budget back to vote was an insult to the public who voted against it. Commissioner Farrell cautioned that the proposal to revert back to a previous year’s budget results in a budget plan that never changes except for the cost of living increase. Such a budget is untenable as it does not allow for the ability to deal with unforseen
situations, such as a roof failure. He suggested creating a budget that doesn’t move forward with the times affects the Town’s bond rating, limits the ability to apply for grants, etc. Co-Chairman Butenkoff disagreed, suggesting the vote indicates the people can’t afford the wild-eyed spending of the Town; people are on fixed incomes. The demographics of the town must be considered. Commissioner Philips noted East Windsor has one of the lowest tax rates in Connecticut; Co-Chairman Butenkoff felt the town was at the bottom of the income level. Commissioner Farrell indicated he didn’t want to put something in place that will become stagnant. He felt East Windsor is a unique town and the Commission should address what the future should look like; he doesn’t want to go backwards. Commissioner Matthews also cited the BOF’s decision to send the same budget back to referendum; he felt the charter should send a
message to the BOF to reduce the proposed budget by a percentage, perhaps 1%. Commissioner
Farrell felt the Commission was reacting to what’s going on today, while it should look to what will happen in 2012. Commissioner Matthews felt the Commission should move in the direction that the voters want. Commissioner Philips felt that should be a decision for the BOF/BOS to make; she felt changing the charter would be micromanagement of that process. Commissioner Farrell felt if the budget fails and goes back to the previous year’s budget it becomes a budget by the cost of operation; money must be borrowed to do that; it affects other financial functions.
CHAPTER VIII - FINANCE AND TAXATION:
Section 8-3: Budget Preparation
Page 29 to 30 - No change
Page 31 - Paragraph G:
G) The Board of Finance will review the recommended budgets submitted to it and shall prepare a proposed
Town budget for submission to a public hearing. THE BUDGET SHALL BE SPLIT BETWEEN THE BOARD OF EDUCATION BUDGET AND THE GENERAL TOWN BUDGET. THE REFERENDUM WILL CONSIST OF A BOARD OF EDUCATION BUDGET AND A GENERAL TOWN BUDGET, AND THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS WILL BE ADDED: IS THE BOARD OF EDUCATION BUDGET TOO HIGH? IS THE BOARD OF EDUCATION BUDGET TOO LOW? IS THE GENERAL TOWN BUDGET TOO HIGH? IS THE GENERAL TOWN BUDGET TOO LOW?
Section 8-4: Annual Budget Meeting
Page 32 - Second Full Paragraph:
After due consideration of the proposed budget and action thereon has been completed, and action on any other item on the call of such meeting has been completed, the procedure for adopting the Annual Budget shall be BY A VOTE BY A MAJORITY OF QUALIFIED VOTERS PRESENT AT SUCH MEETING TO SEND THE BUDGET TO AN AUTOMATIC REFERENDUM. In the event the proposed budget is not adopted by the Annual Budget meeting, the Town shall operate on a budget equal to that of the preceding fiscal year, until such time as a new budget shall be approved by an adjourned Budget Meeting or Referendum called for by petition signed by two hundred persons entitled to vote at a Town Meeting. Such petitions shall be circulated, filed, and certified in
the manner prescribed in Connecticut General Statutes (Chapter) 7-1 and
(Chapter) 7-7, and such adjourned Special Meeting or Referendum shall be held within fourteen days thereafter, on a date set by the Special Meeting. The sum of the estimated expenditures, as amended by said Meeting, or, if not amended, as recommended by the Board of Finance, shall be submitted to the qualified voters for a “YES: or “No” vote on the budget on the voting machines AND PAPER BALLOTS between the hours of
12:00 noon and 8:00 p.m. 6:00 A.M. AND 8:00 P. M. The voting machine labels shall be provided by the Town Clerk. The budget shall, if approved by a majority of those voting, be adopted. Should the referendum vote reject the budget, a second 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 the second referendum, the Board of Finance may revise the rejected budget. 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 PREVIOUS YEAR’S BUDGET PLUS THE CIP COST OF LIVING INCREASE.
2) Upgrade position of Treasurer to Finance Director:
Co-Chairman Matthews reported the Sub-committee met and reviewed the various Town Charters for references regarding a Finance Director. Their preference is the language from the Town of Suffield’s Charter, which appears under Section 6 - 11, sub-sections A - C, page 11. Co-Chairman Matthews read the excerpt for the Commission.
Co-Chairman Butenkoff noted the reference to an “appointment of a maximum of four years”, he questioned how the four year term would fit in with the Commission’s position on multi-year contracts for contract employees (department heads)? Co-Chairman Matthews suggested the Finance Director’s contract could be for all the other requirements/parameters other than compensation. Compensation could be reviewed annually, at the time of the annual budget. The same model could be used for the Chief of Police, the Director of Public Works, and the Planning Director.
Discussion followed regarding the Finance Director’s position as an upgrade of the Treasurer position vs. a new additional position. Co-Chairman Matthews suggested the Treasurer has many responsibilities for keeping the books and
records; there is no time for future planning. The Finance Director would co-
ordinate spending with all other departments. Commissioner Farrell concurred, suggesting he envisioned the position of Finance Director as a CFO, who could assist with development of 5-year plans, develop budgets, and act as an interface with the BOF, BOS, and BOE. Co-Chairman Butenkoff suggested the Finance Director could also research and apply for grants. He also liked Commissioner Farrell’s idea of the CFO working with the BOE as they have a large part of the Town budget. Discussion followed regarding the State Statutes definitions of responsibilities for a CFO.
MOTION: To ADD THE LANGUAGE FROM THE SUFFIELD CHARTER, SECTION 6 - 11, REGARDING THE POSITION OF FINANCE DIRECTOR TO THE EAST WINDSOR CHARTER.
Butenkoff moved/Riggott seconded/VOTE: In Favor: Unanimous
DISCUSSION: Co-Chairman Matthews clarified that the position of Finance Director is in addition to the position of Treasurer; it is not an expanded role for the Treasurer. Commissioner Farrell questioned the need for the two positions; he felt the Finance Director position should be an upgrade to the Treasurer’s position. Co-Chairman Matthews and Butenkoff disagreed, suggesting the administrative duties fall to the Treasurer.
CHAPTER VI - APPOINTED OFFICIALS:
NEW Section 6 - 8 DIRECTOR OF FINANCE:
A) A MAJORITY OF THE COMBINED MEMBERSHIPS OF THE BOARD OF SELECTMEN AND THE BOARD OF FINANCE SHALL APPOINT FOR A MAXIMUM TERM OF FOUR YEARS, WHICH MAY BE RENEWED, A DIRECTOR OF FINANCE, WHO SHALL BE CHOSEN EXCLUSIVELY ON THE BASIS OF PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS, CHARACTER AND ADMINISTRATIVE EXPERIENCE.
B) THE DIRECTOR OF FINANCE SHALL BE DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE TO THE BOARD OF FINANCE FOR SUCH DUTIES AS PLANNING, ORGANIZATION, AND DIRECTION OF
ACCOUNTING, AND PAYROLL; ASSISTING IN ADMINISTRATION OF THE TOWN’S INSURANCE, EMPLOYEE BENEFITS AND PURCHASING PROGRAMS; ASSISTING IN CASH MANAGEMENT AND IN THE PREPARATION OF THE OPERATING AND CAPITAL
BUDGETS; RESPONSIBLE TO THE
BOARD OF SELECTMEN FOR SUCH OTHER DUTIES AS THE BOARD OF SELECTMEN MAY ASSIGN. THE
DIRECTOR OF FINANCE, THE FIRST SELECTMAN AND THE
TREASURER SHALL BE IN FREQUENT CONTACT AND SHALL AT ALL TIME COORDINATE THEIR EFFORTS SO AS TO SERVE THE BEST INTEREST OF THE TOWN OF EAST WINDSOR.
C) A MAJORITY OF THE COMBINED MEMBERSHIP OF THE BOARD OF FINANCE AND THE BOARD OF SELECTMEN SHALL HAVE THE POWER TO REMOVE THE DIRECTOR OF FINANCE, PROVIDED, HOWEVER, NO REMOVAL PROCEEDINGS, EXCEPT FOR CAUSE, MAY BE INITIATED UNTIL SIX MONTHS FOLLOWING THE MOST RECENT TOWN ELECTION.
All subsequent sections of Chapter VI renumbered accordingly.
MOTION: To TAKE A FIVE MINUTE BREAK.
Butenkoff moved/Philips seconded/VOTE: In Favor: Unanimous
The Commission RECESSED at 8:07 P. M. and RECONVENED at 8:15 P. M.
Co-Chairman Matthews noted that in the Somers Charter the BOF and the Treasurer shall be in frequent contact; he felt that language made them equal. He felt the Treasurer has the responsibility to make expenditures as approved by the budget; the Finance Director is more long term.
LET THE RECORD SHOW Commissioner Arcari arrived at 8:15 P. M.
3) Increase the amount (currently $20,000) requiring approval of a Town Meeting:
The Commission agreed with this revision made at the May 22nd Meeting.
CHAPTER X Town Meeting
Section 10-8 Actions Requiring a Town Meeting
A) Adoption of the Annual Budget as herein before provided, or any resolutin making an appropriation of more than
twenty-thousand dollars ($20,000) THIRTY THOUSAND DOLLARS ($30,000) not included in the Town Budget.
4) Planning and Zoning Commission should be elected:
The Commission agreed with this revision made at the May 22nd Meeting.
CHAPTER III - ELECTED OFFICERS, BOARDS, AND COMMISSIONS:
Section 3-2 Elected Town Officers, Boards, and Commissions
NEW Subsection I - Planning and Zoning Commission
I) 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. IF A REGULAR MEMBER OF SAID COMMISSION IS ABSENT OR IS DISQUALIFIED, THE CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMISSION SHALL DESIGNATE AN ALTERNATE TO SO ACT IN PLACE OF THE ABSENT OR DISQUALIFIED MEMBER. THE CHAIRMAN SHALL CHOOSE AN ALTERNATE IN ROTATION SO THAT EACH ALTERNATE SHALL ACT, AS NEARLY AS POSSIBLE, AN EQUAL NUMBER OF TIMES. IF ANY ALTERNATE IS NOT AVAILABLE, SUCH FACT SHALL BE RECORDED IN THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING.
CHAPTER VII - BOARDS - AUTHORITIES, COMMISSIONS AND ASSOCIATIONS
Section 7-14 Planning and Zoning Commission
DELETE THIS SECTION.
5) No employee contracts can be signed unless approved by the Board of Finance Board of Selectmen and Town Meeting:
Most Commissioners felt contract employees and non-union employees should be considered “at will” employees. Compensation should be based on performance;
employee contracts may continue to be multiple years to attract and retain qualified employees; all employee contracts must be approved by the BOF/BOS/
and Town Meeting; dismissal of an employee must be for “just cause” and be fully documented; compensation, as a benefit of employment, should be removed from the contract and reviewed annually and determined based on the annual budget and approved by the BOS.
MOTION: That all employees are “at will” employees by definition. If employment contracts are issued there shall be a term limitation of three (3) years, and all contracts must be
approved by the Board of Finance, Board of Selectmen, and Town Meeting. Financial consideration will be determined on the basis of the annual budget and performance.
Yosky moved/Philips seconded/VOTE: In Favor: Unanimous
REVIEW OF CRC MEMBERS INPUT FOR PROPOSED REVISIONS/(d) Brainstorm for additional items, no counter points:
Commissioner Yosky reported she met with First Selectman Menard; she would like the following items reviewed for revision:
1) move up the annual budget process - as outlined under Chapter VII, Section 8-3: Budget Preparation - to August or September
2) clarify Boards and Commissions under Chapter VII - Boards, Authorities, Commissions and Associations - some need to be made permanent entities.
3) look at inconsistencies in State Statutes and Ordinances.
4) the adopted Code of Ethics needs to be reflected in the charter.
Co-Chairman Butenkoff suggested the Commission should review the position of Town Manager again; the suggestion has been made to him by many people. Commissioners Yosky and Philips disagreed.
Commissioner Farrell suggested the charter should clarify signature authority on contractors for goods and services.
Commissioner Riach suggested review/clarification of the First Selectman’s salary.
Commissioner Farrell suggested some towns operate under a representative form of government. He suggested Branford and Waterford were close to East Windsor with regard to demographics; he offered copies of both town charters for the Commissioners
review. Copies will be sent in the next Commission packet.
DISCUSSION ON PRIOR FAILED CHARTER/(e) What is salvageable, what’s not?
No discussion this evening.
2nd PUBLIC PARTICIPATION:
No one requested to speak.
GUIDANCE FOR NEXT MEETING AGENDA:
Commissioner Farrell will research how many towns split budgets for approval via CCM.
MOTION: To ADJOURN this Meeting at 8:53 p.m.
Buttenkoff moved/Farrell seconded/VOTE: In Favor: Unanimous
Peg Hoffman, Recording Secretary
East Windsor Charter Revision Commission