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July 10, 2008 Meeting Minutes
        
TOWN OF EAST WINDSOR
CHARTER REVISION COMMISSION

Regular Meeting
July 10, 2008

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

The Meeting was called to order at 7:02 p.m. by Co-Chairman John Matthews in the Town Hall Meeting Room, 11 Rye Street, Broad Brook, CT.

ATTENDANCE:

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

Absent: Karen Gaudreau, and Joyce Phillips.

LET THE RECORD REFLECT the Commission has nine members present this evening.

ADDED AGENDA ITEMS:

MOTION: To ADD TO THE AGENDA THE FOLLOWING ITEMS OF BUSINESS:  a)  Hire Recording Secretary on a continuing basis, AND, b)  Discussion of separation of Board of Education and Town Budget under Agenda Item 8B - Review of charter language for separation of budgets and associated ballot questions.

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

PREVIOUS MEETING MINUTES/comments and acceptance:

MOTION: To APPROVE the Minutes of June 26, 2008 amended to delete Commissioner Arcari as being present.

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

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION - The public is encouraged to provide their thoughts as succinct as possible.  CRC 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.

No one in the audience requested to speak.

WRITTEN INPUT SUBMITTED TO CRC:
Co-Chairman Matthews reported he had spoken with First Selectman Menard regarding the recent passage of the budget.  Attorney McKenna’s interpretation of the charter language was provided for Commission members.

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

No one requested additional discussion items.

REVIEW OF CRC MEMBERS input for proposed revisions:  See discussion items below.

REVIEW OF RECORDING SECRETARY’S EMPLOYMENT:

The Recording Secretary advised the Commission the original employment motion had been for a four week time period; she requested the Commission consider her continued employment.  Discussion followed regarding the scope of the employment requirements and comparative compensation.

Co-Chairman Matthews noted the compensation for the Board Secretary for the first four meetings had been granted under the prior budget, and the Commission had been constrained by the budget amount available before the Commission was in place.  It was felt the compensation for this Board should be commiserate with an amount reflective of the work to be done to prepare the charter revision.  

MOTION: To RETAIN PEG HOFFMAN AS THE CHARTER REVISION COMMISSION RECORDING SECRETARY FOR THE AMOUNT OF $100/MEETING.

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

DISCUSSION OF TOP 5(a)  Representative Form of Government:

Commissioner Farrell introduced Charters from the Towns of Branford and Waterford, both of which operate under the Representative Form of Government.  While both population and median household income in Branford and Waterford exceed those figures in East Windsor Commissioner Farrell felt these municipalities most closely mirrored East Windsor for comparison.  He suggested that the RTM (Representative Town Meeting) can be cumbersome (one of the municipalities has 30 members), but it does retain the Town Meeting form of government.  It does not eliminate the Board of Selectmen (BOS) or Board of Finance (BOF).  The members of the RTM are elected officials, they can not hold any other offices, and must be taxpayers.   Both Waterford and Branford offer the opportunity for referendums; none of the town’s spoke of more than one referendum by identifying its number.  Commissioner Farrell suggested the RTM is a simpler operation which reduces the number of times actions must be taken.

MOTION: To STAY WITH THE SELECTMAN/TOWN MEETING FORM OF GOVERNMENT.

Butenkoff moved/Riach moved

DISCUSSION:  Commissioner Farrell felt the RTM is a simpler form of government; Commissioner Butenkoff felt it added a layer.  Commissioner Riggott questioned if the unaffiliated voter has representation, as it doesn’t appear that they have any say because the RTM reflects both parties?  Commissioner Farrell suggested each of East Windsor’s hamlets - Broad Brook, Warehouse Point, Windsorville, Scantic, and Melrose - could have a representative.  He felt the RTMs seem to follow State Statutes more closely; the Town Clerk in both Branford and Waterford has a more powerful role than in East Windsor.  Commissioner Thompson referenced page 9 of a document provided by CCM defining the various forms of government; she noted language indicating the RTM replaces the town meeting.  She felt that eliminated the people having a say in decisions/actions; she hated to see that taken away in East Windsor.  Commissioner Thompson also noted there are only 5 or 6 RTMs under the Selectmen/Town Meeting form of government; she questioned why more towns weren’t jumping on board if that form of government was better?  

Commissioner Farrell reiterated the RTM is a simpler form of government.   He felt East Windsor has too many selectmen, noting he is one himself.  He felt the Town needs to have a more intense process for the BOF, presently they must deal with the budget handed to them; it’s a different process when they have a role in the budget development.  Commissioner Farrell felt the RTM is more representative.  He returned to his mention of the boroughs, each of which could have its own representation based on population.  Commissioner Butenkoff suggested at this time they are really only names; Commissioner Farrell suggested they have separate identifies.  Commissioner Arcari questioned how many people show up for a Town Meeting unless it’s something controversial and then it can be stacked.   Commissioner Farrell noted RTM members are eliminated unless they meet attendance specifications, he referenced the mention of voting districts in the Branford Charter.   Commissioner Butenkoff noted the higher median household income for both Branford and Waterford; Co-Chairman Matthews noted the higher population in both towns as well.  

Commissioners felt consideration of this concept required more study.

MOTION: To AMEND THE PRIOR MOTION TO TABLE DISCUSSION ON THE REPRESENTATIVE FORM OF GOVERNMENT.

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

DISCUSSION OF TOP 5(b)  Review of charter language for separation of budgets and associated ballot questions:

Commissioner Farrell reported he is acquiring information from CCM regarding the various towns who presently split the budget vote into separate items for the Board of Education (BOE) and Town.  Everyone he has spoken to likes this process, although for different reasons.  He cited examples from various towns.  Commissioner Riggott questioned if the towns mentioned have regional school districts?  Commissioner Farrell felt Durham operated under that model.  Co-Chairman Matthews thought the question this Commission had been dealing with was whether it was valid to ask the question - is the budget too high, is the budget too low? Co-Chairman Matthews felt the answer to that question was binding in Ellington.  Commissioner Badstubner noted Commissioner Gaudreau had been researching that issue, but was not present this evening to report.

MOTION: To TABLE DISCUSSION OF THE SEPARATION OF BOARD OF EDUCATION AND TOWN BUDGETS UNTIL THE NEXT MEETING.

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

DISCUSSION OF TOP 5(c) - Further review of Section 8-5 Duties of Board of Finance on Other Subsection (B):

Section requires the following revision:

B)      Supplementary Appropriations:  Upon request of any office, board, commission or similar body that additional funds in excess of what had been provided in the budget or, if funds are required for which no provision was made in the budget, the Board of Finance, after inquiry into and review of the request, may approve one or more appropriations not to exceed twenty thousand dollars ($20,000)  thirty thousand dollars ($30,000).  Said funds may be taken from any cash surplus available or from the contingency fund.  The amount requested and approved shall not exceed twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) thirty thousand dollars ($30,000) of any one office, board, commission or similar body in any one year without Town Meeting approval.

DISCUSSION OF TOP 5(d) - Clarification of Ordinances:

Commissioner Yosky noted she has provided copies of the numerous ordinances to the Commissioners who requested same.  She reported First Selectman Menard has requested the Commission cross reference the identifications of the ordinances in the charter.   Commissioner Riach noted that ordinances are often added and deleted, he questioned if Section 12-10 References to the General Statutes, Special Acts, and Ordinances - didn’t do that as a general statement?  Commissioner Yosky reported First Selectman Menard has also requested the Commission update references to commission changes, such as the Veterans Commission is now a permanent board, the Historical Commission wants to change its name to avoid confusion with the Historical Society.  

Co- Chairman Matthews requested a sub-committee to review the ordinance changes.  Commissioners Yosky and Badstubner volunteered.  

DISCUSSION OF TOP 5(e) - Chapter 11 - inclusion of Code of Ethics:

It was noted the Code of Ethics Ordinance was revised in 2006.  

MOTION: To refer identification of the Code of Ethics Ordinance to the Ordinance Sub-Committee.

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

DISCUSSION OF TOP 5(f) - Review of language regarding signature authority:

The Commission referenced the language proposal submitted by Commissioner Farrell.  Co-Chairman Matthews felt the proposed language was in conflict with going to Town Meeting for expenses in excess of $30,000.   Commissioner Farrell indicated that what happens with regard to funding at the referendum or town Meeting stays in place; the money to do those things have already been appropriated.  This language gives authority to sign contracts to the First Selectman.  Commissioner Farrell suggested this process would become an administrative action when the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is in place.  Additional review/discussion to follow.

NOTE:  For informational purposes only, the following is FIRST DRAFT language proposal.  No action was taken on this proposal.

The First Selectman is the Chief Contracting officer for the Town of East Windsor.  This means the First Selectman is the sole person with the authority to enter into, administer, and/or terminate contracts, purchase orders, or, without limitation, labor contracts or agreements of any kind which obligate the Town of any and all financial responsibility.  The First Selectman has the authority to contract for any dollar amount on his/her signature up to $100,000.   Any amounts exceeding $100,000 require the approval of operating unit manager, the Chief Financial Officer, and the Board of Selectmen.  As the Chief Contracting officer the First Selectman may delegate signature authority to those persons who with the approval of the Board of Selectmen are deemed to require such authority for the effective operation of Town of East Windsor.  

BRAINSTORM FOR ADDITIONAL ITEMS, NO COUNTER POINTS:

Commissioner Arcari felt the language of Section 8-4 - Annual Budget Meeting - Subsection B should be changed to remove “by a vote by a majority of qualified voters” when sending the budget to an automatic referendum.   The Commission had recently revised that language to reflect the following (deletions are shown as struck out, additions are shown as BOLD ITALICIZED UNDERLINED TYPE):  “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 vote of the Annual Budget meeting by a majority of qualified voters present at such meeting.  BY A VOTE BY A MAJORITY OF QUALIFIED VOTERS PRESENT AT SUCH MEETING TO SEND THE BUDGET TO AN AUTOMATIC REFERENDUM.........”  Commissioner Yosky noted Commissioner Gaudreau had pointed out the Annual Town Meeting is the Annual Budget Meeting and the Town Meeting form of government requires a vote of those in attendance.  Discussion followed.  Commissioner Farrell volunteered to rework the language of Section 8-4(B).

2nd PUBLIC PARTICIPATION:

Jim Richards, representing the Economic Development Commission:  Mr. Richards raised the following issues:  1) requested copies of the material, such as the RTM documentation, be provided for t he public.  2)  would like to know what the Commission has agreed to already.  Co-Chairman Matthews reported the charter section changes are reflected in each respective Meeting Minutes, which are available on the Town website.  3)  suggested under the RTM it appears the voting is based on population, not taxpayers; he felt the Board of Selectmen should be making those decisions.  Mr. Richards didn’t feel the RTM represents the taxpayers, who should have some say on the budget.  

GUIDANCE FOR NEXT MEETING:

a)      Review of language of Section 8-3 Budget Preparation, Subsection G, regarding split budgets.

b)      Review rewording of Section 8-4 Annual Budget Meeting, Subsection B,  regarding vote of those present in relation to automatic referendum.

c)      Report of the Ordinance Sub-Committee (including review of addition of the Code of Ethics).

ADJOURN:

MOTION: To ADJOURN this Meeting at 8:24 p.m.

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

Respectfully submitted,

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