TOWN OF EAST WINDSOR
CHARTER REVISION COMMISSION
July 24, 2008
***** Draft Document - Subject to Commission Review *****
The Meeting was called to order at 7:00 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 7:05 p.m.), Claire Badstubner, Joyce Phillips, Scott Riach, Charles Riggott, Madeleine Thompson, and Bonnie Yosky,
Absent: Ed Farrell, and Karen Gaudreau.
LET THE RECORD REFLECT the Commission has nine members present this evening.
Guests: Marie DeSousa and Kathy Pippin, members of the Board of Finance.
ADDED AGENDA ITEMS: None.
PREVIOUS MEETING MINUTES/comments and acceptance: See page 5.
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.
The following people requested to speak:
Diane Dzikiewicz, 6 Juniper Court: indicated he was upset with the way the budget was passed; he feels the vote of the public was taken away; feels the people were upset with the revaluation and this is the only way they can tell the Town how they feel. Co-chairman Butenkoff advised the public the Charter Revision Commission is proposing an automatic referendum without acquiring 200 signatures, and setting a limit of 3 referendums, at which time if the budget fails to pass then the budget reverts back to the previous plus a Consumer Price Index increase. The Commission is also proposing separate budgets for the Board of Education and the General Town Government. Co-chairman Matthews advised the public of the Commission’s timeframe for submission of charter revisions, and the
process for public input, review by appropriate Town officials,
and eventual submission for vote in November, 2009.
Joe Taylor, 70 Elm Street: echoed what was said previously; he would like to see the majority rule. As long as he knows the Commission is looking into this and it’s being considered. Co-chairman Butenkoff advised Mr. Taylor the revisions would be voted on November, 2009 and would go into effect in 2010.
WRITTEN INPUT SUBMITTED TO CRC:
The Commission acknowledged receipt of the following correspondence:
v Memo from Laurie Whitten, Town Planner, requesting the Conservation Commission/Inland Wetlands Commission be split into 2 commissions.
v Memo from Eric Moffett, Chairman of the Economic Development Commission requesting the current membership makeup be changed to include 2 alternate members.
MOTION: To REFER REVIEW OF THE MEMOS FROM TOWN PLANNER WHITTEN AND EDC CHAIRMAN MOFFETT UNTIL THE COMMISSION’S NEXT REGULARLY SCHEDULED MEETING ON AUGUST 14, 2008.
Philips moved/Badstubner seconded/VOTE: In Favor: Unanimous
ADMINISTRATIVE HOUSEKEEPING/(a): No issues raised.
ADMINISTRATIVE HOUSEKEEPING/(b) Query members for other items:
See below/DISCUSSION OF TOP 5/(a).
REVIEW OF CRC MEMBERS input for proposed revisions:
Commissioner Yosky noted she has received requests from people to send input to the Commission. She has agreed to accept e-mail correspondence, and will forward copies to all Commissioners. She has set up a separate e-mail account for this purpose at firstname.lastname@example.org
DISCUSSION OF TOP 5/(a) Review of language of Section 8-3 Budget Preparation, Subsection G, regarding split budgets - validity of questions:
Commissioner Yosky wants to talk more about the split budgets and the automatic referendum . Commissioner Farrell’s previous comments about curtailing growth were good comments. Co-Chairman Matthews suggested people also have the ability to go for additional appropriations; he questioned if the current limit requiring approval at a Town Meeting - which was raised from $20,000 to $30,000 at the Commission’s May 22nd
Meeting - should be raised further. Discussion continued regarding the proposed number of referendums, opposing opinions regarding the the validity of the budgets submitted, and various methods of considering referendum questions - are each of the budgets too high, or too low.
MOTION: To MAKE THE REFERENDUM QUESTIONS - IS THE BOARD OF EDUCATION BUDGET TOO HIGH (OR TOO LOW) AND IS THE GENERAL TOWN GOVERNMENT BUDGET TOO HIGH (OR TOO LOW) NON-BINDING QUESTIONS.
Yosky moved/Philips seconded/VOTE: In Favor: Unanimous
Speaking from the audience Jacqueline Taylor (70 Elm Street) questioned what good the question would do? People will vote for their opinion. Co-chairman Matthews hoped if people wanted more educational programs they would vote for a higher budget. He felt it would send a message to the Board of Education as to what direction to go in
Joe Taylor, 70 Elm Street, felt putting these requirements in the Charter makes it too confusing. If you have a Finance Committee let them do their jobs. Co-Chairman Butenkoff advised Mr. Taylor the Commission revised dates for budget submission/review in the Charter.
MOTION: To REVISE THE WORDING OF SECTION 8-3 BUDGET PREPARATION, SUBSECTION G, REGARDING SPLIT BUDGETS TO INCLUDE THE WORDING “.........THE FOLLOWING ADVISORY QUESTIONS BE ADDED..........”
Matthews moved/Riach seconded/VOTE: In Favor: Unanimous
CHAPTER VIII - FINANCE AND TAXATION:
Section 8-3: Budget Preparation
Page 29 to 30 - No change
Page 37 - 38 - 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 ADVISORY
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?
DISCUSSION OF TOP 5/(B) Review rewording of Section 8-4 Budget Meeting, Subsection B, regarding vote of those present in relation to automatic referendum:
The Commission had previously changed the intent of this section to reflect sending the budget to an automatic referendum. Working with the current language while including the Commission’s intent the Recording Secretary revised language to the following draft (please note: current language being deleted is shown in
struckout text, while new language is shown in 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 OF A MAJORITY OF
QUALIFIED VOTERS PRESENT AT SUCH MEETING TO SEND THE BUDGET TO AN AUTOMATIC REFERENDUM.............. Commissioner Yosky wants to see the phrase “by a vote of a majority of qualified voters present” taken out as the intent is for an automatic referendum to occur regardless. Commissioners Philips and Thompson volunteered to rework the language for review at the Commission’s next meeting on August 14th.
DISCUSSION OF TOP 5/(c) Report of the Ordinance Sub-Committee (including review of addition of the Code of Ethics):
The Sub-Committee continues to work on this item.
BRAINSTORM FOR ADDITIONAL ITEMS, NO COUNTER POINTS:
Commissioner Riach would like to review the previous Charter revision to note and consider items submitted for change.
2nd PUBLIC PARTICIPATION:
Jacqueline Taylor, 70 Elm Street: questioned that these changes go to vote in 2009? Co-chairman Butenkoff replied affirmatively, noting the process includes holding Public Hearings on the revisions, and referral of the material to the Board of Selectmen (BOS) for approval. He also noted a petition of 300 signatures is required to over-ride the BOS’s vote. Co-chairman Butenkoff also noted Ellington’s recent Charter revision included questions as this Commission is proposing. Mrs. Taylor said she felt as if she has lost her independence because of the decision not to go to another referendum.
Joe Taylor, 70 Elm Street, said people need to stand up for their right to vote. Discussion continued regarding the third referendum.
Marie DeSousa, representative of the Board of Finance: respectfully requested copies
of materials reviewed and revised by the Charter Revision Commission be left in the Board of Finance’s mailbox. Ms. DeSousa indicated she had not intended to speak this evening but she felt the public comments warranted her response. As Acting Chairman of the Board of Finance (BOF) she reported the intent of the decision on handling the recent budget passage was not to take away anyone’s vote; she, too, has family members who have fought for the right to vote.
BOF Acting Chairman DeSousa reported the Boards met regularly to review the status of the budget. They were trying to get an understanding from the no voters as to their concerns; some people wanted to take money from contract employees but most of those contracts include a buy-out clause which would have required the Town to pay out money to those people affected. There was little time to take action; the next referendum would have occurred in 8 days, because of the upcoming holiday they really had only 3 days to do anything. They had to look at various options, and went to the Town Attorney who responded with the legal opinion on which they acted. BOF Acting Chairman DeSousa felt she did the right thing; there was never any thought to taking away anyone’s vote.
Co-chairman Butenkoff disagreed with BOF Acting Chairman DeSousa on several points, including the cost of the referendums relative to the value of budgetary cuts made, his opinion on voters rights, and the impact of the recent decisions on upcoming elections.
PREVIOUS MEETING MINUTES/comments and acceptance:
MOTION: To APPROVE the Minutes of Regular Meeting dated July 10, 2008 as published.
Yosky moved/Riach seconded/VOTE: In Favor: Unanimous
GUIDANCE FOR NEXT MEETING:
a) Memo from Laurie Whitten, Town Planner, requesting the Conservation Commission/Inland Wetlands Commission be split into 2 commissions.
b) Memo from Eric Moffett, Chairman of the Economic Development Commission requesting the current membership makeup be changed to include 2 alternate members.
c) Additional appropriations - should they go to referendum, or should the amount which triggers approval via a Town Meeting be raised.
d) Discussion of separate referendum for additional appropriations requested midway in the fiscal year.
e) Report of Sub-Committee regarding review of language revision for Section 8-4 Budget Meeting, Subsection B, regarding vote of those present in relation to automatic referendum.
f) Report of the Ordinance Sub-Committee (including review of addition of the Code of Ethics).
g) Review of Demographics for surrounding Towns
h) Review of failed Charter revision regarding changes proposed.
MOTION: To ADJOURN this Meeting at 8:00 p.m.
Philips moved/Riach seconded/VOTE: In Favor: Unanimous
Peg Hoffman, Recording Secretary
East Windsor Charter Revision Commission