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February 12, 2009 Meeting Minutes

Regular Meeting
February 12, 2009

***** 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.


Present:        Co-Chairman George Butenkoff, Members Claire Badstubner, Karen Gaudreau, Scott Riach, Charles Riggott, Madeleine Thompson, and Bonnie Yosky.

Absent: Co-Chairman John Matthews, Members Donald Arcari, Edward Farrell, and Joyce Phillips.

Guests: Steve Mednick, Esquire, legal consultant to the Commission, and Kathy Pippin, representing the Board of Finance.

ADDED AGENDA ITEMS:             None.

PREVIOUS MEETING MINUTES/comments and acceptance:  

Postponed until later in the Meeting.

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.

Blaine Simpkins, Director of Emergency Management, requested to speak to address questions that had been raised by the Commission with regard to the Civil Preparedness Advisory Council vs. the Emergency Management Advisory Council.  Mr. Simpkins noted the agency title was changed throughout the State after 911; it is now the Emergency Management Advisory Council.  The Commission concurred a title change would be required in the present charter.

ATTORNEY MEDNICK:  Discussion of proposed changes:

Attorney Mednick reviewed, and discussed answers, to the following questions (which
are summarized in these Minutes) raised by the Commission.  The questions are
identified by the number assigned in an earlier document, but are shown in the order of discussion.

1)      Should the Commission list the Register of Vital Statistics and the Town Clerk in the charter:

The Town Clerk is the ex-officio Registrar of Vital Statistics.  Both positions need not be reflected in the charter   Language should be changed to refer to the powers and duties as defined in the Connecticut General Statutes (CGS).

Discussion followed regarding developing the charter as the constitution for East Windsor.   Attorney Mednick clarified that when he spoke of the charter in relation to a constitutional form of government he meant that as a conceptual issue.  The charter should be a broader document but not heavily codified with procedures; the procedures should be dealt with via an ordinance.

2)      Various questions regarding the Cemetery Association:

Co-chairman Butenkoff summarized that Commissioner Gaudreau had found that there are six town owned cemeteries; an additional 26 acres bordering the Scantic River near the Scantic Cemetery are owned by the Cemetery Association.   Significant funds are held by the Cemetery Association privately, yet they seek funding from the Town via an annual budget request.

Attorney Mednick referred to his documentation which outlined powers given to cemetery associations under the Connecticut General Statutes (CGS).  For the purposed of the Charter Revision Commission, the Cemetery Association should be deleted as a permanent board, but should continue to be referenced under the charter.  The language should be expanded to require that the directors be residents of East Windsor, and the Board of Selectmen should adopt an ordinance regarding the maintenance and operation of the town cemeteries in accordance with the CGS.   

3)      Separation of the Inland/Wetlands and Conservation Commission:

Attorney Mednick concurred with the request of the Director of Planning to separate the current combined Conservation Commission and Inland Wetlands Watercourse Agency.  See Attorney Mednick’s document for proposed language.

4)      Discussion of the Water Pollution Control Authority as the successor to the Sewer Commission:

Attorney Mednick cited the Connecticut General Statutes allow the establishment of a Water Pollution Control Authority, which is considered the successor to the “sewer authority”.  Discussion occurred as to when, and how, the change occurred.

Commissioner Yosky noted that while the WPCA is listed in the charter she has been unable to find an ordinance regarding the creation of this authority.   Attorney Mednick suggested there should be an ordinance to establish the WPCA in accordance with the powers and duties of the CGS.

5)      Civil Preparedness Advisory Council vs. the Emergency Management Advisory Council:

See discussion with Blaine Simpkins during Public Participation.  Civil Preparedness Advisory Council will be changed to the Emergency Management Advisory Council in the charter.

8)      Director of Finance vs. Town Treasurer:

Attorney Mednick advised the Commission there is no statutory requirement for a Town Treasurer, however there are Statutes which allow for the establishment of the function for the position of Town Treasurer.  The Commission has presently proposed the creation of a position for a Chief Financial Officer (CFO).  Attorney Mednick suggested various options to the Commission, including proposing both positions, or including the functions of the Town Treasurer into the position of the CFO.  The Commission decided to delete the proposal for establishing the position of CFO.

General Question 1.)    Can a recall provision be included in the charter?

Attorney Mednick referenced The Supreme Court case of Simons v. Canty, 195 Conn. 524 (1985) which specifically ruled that recall is not valid in Connecticut unless the result of an express grant of authority by the State either through the General Statutes or Special Laws.

General Question 2)     If a committee/commission/board has been created by Ordinance, but specifics of those agencies are subsequently changed via Charter creation or revisions, which has precedence?

Attorney Mednick suggested the language of the Charter has precedence over the ordinances; however, as with the Civil Preparedness Advisory Council, the Connecticut General Statutes take precedence over the charter.

6)      Questions regarding sending the budget to referendum, regarding splitting the budget into Education and Municipal budgets, and if the budgets are considered too high or too low.  Should the questions be included in the charter, or reflected on the ballot:

Attorney Mednick suggested the ballot can include a “yes” or “no” answer regarding sending the budget to referendum, but should not include any advisory questions

regarding is the budget too high or too low.  

Regarding the actual number of referendums required to pass a budget, Attorney Mednick suggested there is no statutory limit; referendums can go on forever.  However, there is considerable risk to unlimited referendums.  The Town is required to get a budget in place by July 1st, so that the mill rate can be set and the tax bills go out to produce revenue for the Town.  Attorney Mednick submitted a document, entitled “Connecticut Municipal Budget Adoption Experiences FY 2008 - 09”, which compares the process of adoption of municipal budgets for 169 Connecticut municipalities, and 17 regional school districts.  The document references the date of budget adoption, and the number of referendums required to reach adoption.   Attorney Mednick reported that approximately 77% of the municipalities adopt their budget under the first vote. East Windsor joins 7% of the communities whose budget passage required 3 votes; East Windsor adopted the 2008 - 2009 FY Budget on June 24th.  

Attorney Mednick referenced a portion of the document that summarized the various forms of government, and the number of votes required to adopt the various budgets.  

Discussion followed regarding the budget adoption process for East Windsor for the Fiscal Year 2008 - 2009.  

While there is no limitation on the number of referendums to adopt the budget Attorney Mednick felt it is preferable to create a charter that sets a “wall” on the number of referendums.  If there is no budget in place by July 1 a town can continue to operate for up to 90 days, making the necessary expenditures authorized by the body of government, and after 90 days a town can continue on a month to month basis.  The disadvantage is the town has been unable to set a mill rate, tax bills can not be created or processed, and the town must borrow to continue operation (which affects its bonding status/rating).           

It was noted the Commission has revised the time allowable between referendums under the proposed charter.  Attorney Mednick cited the need to allow for Notice requirements for FOI, etc., between referendum votes.

Attorney Mednick suggested the Commission consider creating a smaller drafting committee to review the proposed revision language.  Commissioners Gaudreau, Butenkoff, and Thompson agreed to work with Attorney Mednick; Commissioner Yosky will review her schedule but would like to be included.  It was determined that this meeting would NOT be a Special Meeting as the number of members involved did not constitute a quorum.  Date and time of meeting to be determined.

LET THE RECORD SHOW Attorney Mednick left the meeting at 7:55 p.m.

PREVIOUS MEETING MINUTES/comments  and acceptance:

MOTION: To APPROVE the Minutes of January 22, 2009 with the following amendments:  Page 3, DISCUSSION OF TOP 5/follow up to discussion with Attorney
Steve Mednick (if documentation received), paragraph 2:  “The Commission reviewed again unlimited vs. a specific number of referendums required to pass the annual budget, and discussed the passage of the 2008 - 2009 annual budget.  Commissioner Thompson felt the town departments didn’t keep the public advised VIA THE MEDIA of the budget changes as they work through the budget revisions; COMMISSIONER YOSKY SUGGESTED people can’t hear what the Commissioners say at the meetings..........”; Page 3, paragraph 4, “The MAJORITY OF THE Commission felt appropriate ballot questions might be: Automatic referendum, split budgets, unlimited referendums, approval of deletions/corrections; COMMISSIONER GAUDREAU DISAGREED, NOTING SHE FELT THE AUTOMATIC REFERENDUM AND THE UNLIMITED REFERENDUMS WERE INAPPROPRIATE.

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


ADMINISTRATIVE HOUSEKEEPING/(a):        Nothing presented.

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

Nothing presented.

REVIEW OF CRC MEMBERS input for proposed revisions:     

Nothing presented this evening; comments to be submitted at Drafting Meeting.

DISCUSSION OF TOP 5/(a) Karen Gaudreau/Registrar of Vital Statistics/b) Bonnie Yosky/Status of Civil Preparedness Director; c) Karen Gaudreau/Status of Permanent Commissions:

See previous discussion with Attorney Mednick.

DISCUSSION OF TOP 5/(d):  Review of currently proposed changes/review for consistency, clarity, and compatibility:

To be reviewed during Drafting Meeting.


Nothing presented.


GUIDANCE FOR NEXT MEETING:      Drafting Meeting.


MOTION: To ADJOURN this Meeting at 8:10 p.m.

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

Respectfully submitted,
Peg Hoffman, Recording Secretary
East Windsor Charter Revision Commission