TOWN OF EAST WINDSOR
CHARTER REVISION COMMISSION
Regular Meeting/PUBLIC HEARING
March 26, 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, Co-Chairman John Matthews, Members Claire Badstubner, Joyce Phillips, Scott Riach, Charles Riggott, Madeleine Thompson, and Bonnie Yosky.
Absent: Member Donald Arcari, Karen Gaudreau, and Ed Farrell.
Guest: First Selectman Denise Menard, Deputy Selectman Gil Hayes, and Selectman Dale Nelson, members of the Board of Selectmen; Marie DeSousa, Jason Bowza, Jack Mannette, and Kathy Pippin, members of the Board of Finance; Cliff Nelson, member of the Police Commission, and Bill Schultz, member of the Board of Education. Please note that when a public official indicated if they were speaking as a resident or their role as a Town official it has been noted in the Meeting Minutes. In the case that no such identification was made the official’s position is shown in parenthesis (). Please also note that various members of the public who requested to speak during the Public Hearing segment have been listed under that Agenda item.
ADDED AGENDA ITEMS: None.
POWERPOINT PRESENTATION/PROPOSED CHARTER REVISIONS:
Co-Chairman Butenkoff advised the public that the Commission’s legal consultant with regard to charter issues, Attorney Steve Mednick, had suggested the Charter should be considered the Constitution of the Town. Co-Chairman Butenkoff then read the Preamble, which has been added to this version of the Charter revisions. He introduced Commissioner Yosky, noting she had prepared the PowerPoint presentation being shown for the public this evening. Assisting Commissioner Yosky was Co-Chairman Matthews, who manned the computer during the presentation.
Please see Attachment A filed with these Minutes - “Town of East Windsor Charter Revision Commission, Organized March 2008”. A brief summarization of the presentation points follows:
* Cover page
* “Charter Revision Membership”
* “Objectives of CRC” (Charter Revision Commission)
* “Some Charter Facts”
* “Our Charter”
* “Proposed Changes”
* “Charter Revision Calendar”
* “Next Steps”
PUBLIC HEARING/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.
Co-Chairman Butenkoff opened the PUBLIC HEARING at approximately 7:15 p.m.
Deputy Selectman Gil Hayes: questioned if, during the final approval/recommendation process to be handled by the Board of Selectmen, will the CRC offer questions or recommendations on various sections of the Charter? As an example, will there be a question regarding the automatic referendum? Deputy Selectman Hayes felt that recommendation would be appropriate. Another example would be a question regarding the vote going to three (3) referendums - if all votes fail the budget would go back to the previous year. Deputy Selectman Hayes questioned where the Town advances with that approach; the Town will remain stagnant.
Co-Chairman Butenkoff noted the CRC held many discussions on that issue. They reviewed data provided to them, and then sat town with the Town Treasurer, the Tax Collector, and the Assessor. Co-Chairman indicated the Tax Collector and the Assessor pointed out there would be problems for the Town with not having the budget available by June 15th. As a result Co-Chairman Butenkoff can see for the need to get a budget in place by June 15th rather than holding unlimited referendums.
Commissioner Yosky indicated she hoped the Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance would write a letter to convey the position of the budget to the people. She felt the people will not let the Town go stagnant.
Marie DeSousa, 10 Rice Road (also Board of Finance Chairman): referenced PowerPoint bullet #8 under Proposed Charter Changes - Define employees as “at will” employees. Limit all personnel contracts to three years and the Approved Annual Budget.” Mrs. Desousa requested an explanation of the intent of that language. Co-Chairman Matthews suggested this Town submits an approved annual budget and contracts were approved to allow to “spread out” the years. He suggested you could have a contract with an individual that defines their role, but the wage must be approved by the annual budget. You can’t say that individual will get a 5% (raise) for all the years.
Mrs. DeSousa reported the Charter can’t supersede State law; there is no correlation between the approved annual budget and the contract. The contract is binding, unless “give-backs” are given/(agreed to). Co-Chairman Butenkoff suggested this proposed revision was to “lock the door” on the 11 year contract. Mrs. DeSousa indicated she had no problem with the three years; her objection was the “approved annual budget”. Jack Mannette, speaking from the audience, suggested defining a labor contract as being different from other employee contracts.
Cathy Simonelli, 71 Depot Street: questioned that the section under discussion doesn’t go for union employees, it involves other positions? Co-Chairman Butenkoff replied affirmatively.
First Selectman Denise Menard: (indicated she was requesting to speak as a resident as well as the First Selectman): indicated she could see having a contract for three (3) years, but for someone coming into Town and having to wait for an approval of the budget, or to deal with political issues, for their raise - she suggested East Windsor will never get good people to work here.
Also, the language which requires a personnel contract to go the Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance and a Town Meeting (Mrs. Menard is referencing language proposed under Chapter IX - TOWN EMPLOYEES, Section 9-2 Employee Status) - Mrs. Menard indicated she loves the Town and loves working for the Town but she felt asking employees to discuss their personnel issues at a Town Meeting is inappropriate. She felt the contracts being reviewed by the Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance was a good idea, but not taking personnel issues to a Town Meeting.
Co-Chairman Matthews, speaking to Co-Chairman Butenkoff, suggested the CRC may need to revisit this language. If they want to set a dollar amount then that would need to go to Town Meeting but you could have a contract for three (3) years with the understanding that there wages would be subject to the budget process.
Mrs. Menard felt the Commission needed to think long and hard. The Town faces problems getting good employees; this issue needs to be looked at carefully.
Bob Cassell, 120 Wells Road: indicated he didn’t like having three (3) referendums and the vote is done; that’s taking away the vote of the people. He didn’t like what happened last year; he didn’t see how that could have happened. He felt with three (3) referendums people could be giving three (3) bogus budgets and then it’s done; you should have the voting.
Dale Nelson, 51 Omelia Road (also a member of the Board of Selectmen): objected to the requirement for 200 signatures for a petitioned referendum. She indicated the Town has grown; she felt the signature requirement should be a percentage. She suggested someone could stand outside this room tonight and get half of them. Mrs. Nelson didn’t think the 200 signatures was enough.
Cliff Nelson, 51 Omelia Road (also a member of the Police Commission): Mr. Nelson opened his discussion by thanking all the members of the CRC for their hard work and dedication regarding proposing these revisions. He noted he was a member of the past two (2) Charter Revision Commissions and understands the hard work required; he felt the current CRC members have done a great job.
Mr. Nelson suggested he felt a good number of referendums would be two (2). If the budget fails after two (2) referendums then it should go to the Board of Finance and the Board of Selectmen to set the mill rate. He felt everyone is really an armchair quarterback; the only people who know what the Town needs are the Board of Finance and the Board of Selectmen. We have elected these people and they are responsible to set the budget.
Jason Bowza, 34 Rye Street (also member of the Board of Finance): Mr. Bowza indicated he echoed Mr. Nelson’s comments. Mr. Bowza suggested that with the Commission’s referral of actions to the Town Meeting it looked like the Commission had put much consideration on preserving the Town Meeting form of government. He suggested the problem with contracts going to the Board of Finance and the Board of Selectmen and the Town Meeting is it will delay the process, and it (the language of Section 9-2 Employee Status - CHAPTER IX - TOWN EMPLOYEES) conflicts with the language of Section 5-1 (Section 5-1 General - CHAPTER V, THE FIRST SELECTMAN) of the Charter. By keeping the Town Meeting form of government and going to a referendum - the Town Meeting allows people to
have a voice.
Jack Mannette, Old Ellington Road (also a member of the Board of Finance): regarding the number of referendums, Mr. Mannette suggested it’s a tough decision to decide how many to go to before it creates a problem for the town. His bottom line has always been that the budget vote lies with the people. Mr. Mannette felt we have been poor in giving information to the public presently, and he understands that information will be available by now. He felt there will be data available to advise if the budget doesn’t pass this will happen; it doesn’t mean there will be no tax increase, but at least it tells the voter the difference.
Mr. Mannette felt that changing from $20,000 to $30,000 before going to a Town Meeting (CHAPTER X - TOWN MEETING, Section 10-8 Actions Requiring a Town Meeting) isn’t necessary based on his experience on the Board of Finance. He felt the dollar amount should be left at $20,000; usually the money is out there for an appropriation.
Danelle Godeck, 20 Lindsay Lane: Ms. Godeck reported she moved here because it’s so like the country but it’s the best of both worlds. While reading the Charter she has a problem with reverting to the previous year’s budget. Economists are predicting 5% inflation, and double digits in the future; she felt the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens could be jeopardized. Things like garbage collection, police protection, education; the Town can’t survive without an increase in the budget, especially with everything increasing all around us. Ms. Godeck suggested people expect officials to tighten their belts but with responsibility. We all have a vested interest in the Town to encourage businesses to locate here. Ms. Godeck
requested the Commission reconsider reverting to the previous year’s budget.
Cathy Simonelli, 71 Depot Street: she referenced Jack Mannette’s comments presenting the pros and cons. It’s a big problem in Town and she felt it was one of the reasons the budgets don’t go forward is that people may not know the information, although she understands sometimes you can’t get people to understand. Ms. Simonelli felt there will not be time between the second and third referendum to get that information out to the public.
Regarding Cliff Nelson’s comments about everybody being armchair quarterbacks, she has attended budget meetings and she sees people work hard to present realistic budgets, yet people feel they don’t do that. Ms. Simonelli suggested we have elected the Board of Finance and the Board of Selectmen who know what the Town needs for funding to keep the Town viable. She agreed that we only need two (2) referendums and then the budget should go back to the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance so they can set the budget.
Jason Bowza, 34 Rye Street (also a member of the Board of Finance): Mr. Bowza referenced the referendum dates suggested by the CRC, he felt the dates should be left to the discretion of the moderator after taking into consideration the requirements for posting the legal notices. He felt the Board of Finance may not have time to put out the budget information. Mr. Bowza suggested having hard and fast dates might work to our disadvantage.
First Selectman Denise Menard, (resident and First Selectman): Thanked the CRC for all their hard work; they are a dedicated team of people who have put a lot of thought and compromise into the revision process.
First Selectman Menard indicated she liked the idea of preparing a budget message, but felt it might be premature to put out that information in November or December which is the start of the budget process. She indicated they will have the budget history and an idea of where the Town should head but if the message was presented to the degree of detail the Commission recommends the message wouldn’t make sense now. First Selectman Menard submitted a copy of this year’s budget calendar so the Commission could see how the budget message might fit in. She also submitted a copy of the letter she sent to the boards, commissions, and department heads so the Commission could see the flavor of the budget requests. First Selectman Menard suggested the initial conversations are with the
Board of Finance and the Board of Selectmen together; it should be a cohesive effort of both boards and not one person sitting in that office. She reiterated she looked at the level of detail the Commission is requesting in the budget message and felt it would be better presented later. Commissioner Yosky reported she felt the Commission’s intent was for the message to be presented at the end of the budget process. First Selectman Menard suggested that in this present charter revision the budget message has been requested at the beginning of the budget process in November or December.
Marie DeSousa (also Chairman of the Board of Finance): reported they put out this letter some months ago and asked that all boards, commissions, and department heads come in with a zero increase. Since then the economy has taken a nosedive. Even if they put out their message we know even with a zero increase budget we won’t get that because the State revenue will be lower. Mrs. DeSousa suggested the Commission check the statutory requirements for the Board of Finance. When she was forced to take over the chairmanship of the Board of Finance they put out that information and they heard from so many people it was overkill. The information is on the (Town’s) website, but if you micromanage it in the charter the Board of Finance and the Board of
Selectmen won’t have the flexibility to work through the budget process.
Regarding the comments from the person who said people will be putting out higher budgets knowing they will be voted down, Mrs. Desousa suggested it’s time consuming to prepare a true and accurate budget. Even last year when the Board of Finance passed the budget after getting a legal opinion they passed a budget with further reductions after listening to the people. Mrs. DeSousa suggested she felt the charter is being made too prohibitive for people to do their work.
Paul Anderson, 89 Main Street: Mr. Anderson suggested he liked the specific referendum dates; everyone knows going in when the referendums will occur; the information isn’t floating around out there. If people know the dates they will work within them. The public needs to understand we are working within the process, and it’s a set process, and this is how it will operate.
David Menard, 73 Miller Road: suggested by going back to last year he would have to thank God he doesn’t have children in town. Education and services will go down. If we revert back to last year’s budget the services you lose and the teachers you lose - why would people move here? East Windsor is on the I-91 corridor; we need police protection. How much do you want to protect the people and how much do you want to give to the children? Staying stagnant is not a good idea.
Bill Schultz, 9 Lindsay Lane (also a member of the Board of Education): Mr. Schultz felt there would be a problem with three (3) referendums if you need the budget passed by June 15th. People will be voting without being informed.
Regarding the town history, if you have two (2) you will have three (3); why not save the $5,000?
Mr. Schultz suggested if the budget fails then set a percentage requirement, say 10%, for the second referendum. Commissioner Phillips questioned what happens if the reason it’s being voted down is because people want more money in the education budget? Mr. Schultz indicated he understood, but he was trying to propose a compromise.
Regarding the letter from the Board of Finance/Board of Selectmen/Board of Education, Mr. Schultz indicated he was a member of the Board of Education. He felt they did a terrible job of informing the people. Mr. Schultz felt it should be specific as to who will write the letter. Commissioner Yosky suggested the Commission’s intent was that two letters be written, one for the Town as authored by the Board of Finance, and one from the Board of Education. She felt those groups would be the best informed to tell the public what the budget was. Co-Chairman Butenkoff noted there was much discussion amongst the Commissioners regarding splitting the budget, and that proposal was abandoned. Mr. Schultz replied - “thank goodness”.
Mike Kowalski, 21 Church Street: Mr. Kowalski suggested, as a bottom line, limit it after the second or third referendum. Mr. Kowalski also suggested including a cost of living increase so the town isn’t going in reverse. Commissioner Yosky reported after the Commission talked to the Assessor and Tax Collector they said it would make too many problems; Co-Chairman Butenkoff concurred, noting they said if you miss the June 15th date it causes too many problems. Mr. Kowalski suggested the budget process keep to those dates but to put in a cost of living increase. Co-Chairman Butenkoff reported that suggestion had been in the revised language but was taken out. Mr. Kowalski suggested the Commission can put it back.
John Burnham, 178 Scantic Road: Mr. Burnham reported he felt what happened last year was a crime and a shame; he couldn’t believe it was in America. He referenced people’s comments that they had a right to do it; he suggested that was horse----. Mr. Burnham suggested it amazed him that if someone comes in with a $30 million budget and you say no, then they say we can do it for $29 million. Mr. Burnham felt if there is more money in the well they will go for it. He felt the best people to tell how much they are willing to do for services is the voter. The way the CRC presented it they give the people the right to vote; if the people say they don’t want all these services any more............. Commissioner Yosky reported one of the
things the board had to think about, they listened to the people and the employees and are trying to please everyone, and can’t. They won’t know what the Town will get from the State until May. They didn’t give the voter unlimited referendums, and the employees need time to do their work, and then the Commission tried to leave it to the voters to have their say.
Marie DeSousa (also Chairman of the Board of Finance): Referencing Mr. Burnham’s comments Mrs. DeSousa reported that every time the Board of Finance puts out a budget it’s the best budget for the Town. Last year was the lowest mill rate - 21% - most people had tax reductions. What was done was legal. When a budget fails and they go back and make reductions it’s not because there isn’t something deserving in there; it’s because they need to take money out of the budget. If people need to see the result of the decreased budgets Mrs. DeSousa suggested they take a look at the Town Hall Annex; what work was done there is already deteriorating. The infrastructure in Town hasn’t changed in 25 years. People come to the Board of
Selectmen and complain about a bridge that’s been washed out for three (3) years and the fire department can’t get across it. The Melrose bridge has been closed for 20+ years. There is no money hidden. We are taking money out from the school system; a “pay-to-play” program would cost the parents, or it costs you as a taxpayer. Mrs. DeSousa didn’t think the budgets going out to the people are not valid; every cut in the budget is a cut in services.
Ed Filipone, 22 Scantic Road: reported he is familiar with the past budget process. The Town is labor oriented; if you do nothing else the budget will go up 3% because of salary increases. Approximately 85% of the budget is salaries, which you are bound to by contract; the remaining 15% is fire department, roads, etc. He felt that piece is what should be put out in the information process.
Deputy Selectman Gil Hayes: citing Mr. Burnham’s comments/opinion, the people in East Windsor haven’t been without services, although there is a cut coming now - the elimination in bulk pick-up.
Deputy Selectman Hayes referenced the CRC’s PowerPoint presentation, noting the reference that by September 16, 2009 the Board of Selectmen gives final approval for the charter revisions to go to the voters. His question in the beginning of the Public Hearing was: does the Board of Selectmen get to take away, or add, to the recommendations proposed by the CRC? Deputy Selectman Hayes cited someone in the audience said one of the (ballot) questions should be “should the budget be increased?” Chairman Butenkoff indicated the CRC considered that question but thought it was illegal, and understood other towns had problems with people answering the question but didn’t vote on the charter itself.
Selectman Menard offered the suggestion to have a referendum if 20% of the people vote.
Bea Corrado, 1 Lindsay Lane: cited Deputy Selectman Hayes’ question, she queried who makes the final decision on what questions are posed on the charter? Is it the Board of Selectmen? First Selectman Menard clarified that would be the responsibility of the Board of Selectmen. Commissioner Yosky indicated the CRC had planned to propose their recommended questions based on what the people say tonight. An example would be “do you approve of an automatic referendum in place of the Town Meeting?” If the people pass one section then that becomes part of the Charter (going forward); if a part of the charter fails it doesn’t become part of the Charter. Mrs. Corrado questioned that the Board of Selectmen either approve or
rejects the proposed charter by July 26th? Commissioner Yosky suggested if the Board o f Selectmen don’t send it forward the CRC has time to get signatures to force it to go to referendum.
Deputy Selectman Hayes questioned if the Board of Selectmen have to accept the charter revisions in part, or in total? Commissioner Yosky suggested in part, although she hoped the Board of Selectmen and the CRC could meet and compromise on the recommendations. People will always disagree. There is no way to get a charter in Town that everyone likes. Some people want more money for education; some people say they want more services.
Cathy Simonelli, 71 Depot Street: noted someone had said earlier that people voted no to get the budget to go up. Ms. Simonelli indicated she had been asking that question for many years; is there a way to work that into the charter? It isn’t that they can do it for less, but they have been told to do it for less. Commissioner Yosky suggested that when the Board of Education and the Board of Selectmen start the annual budget process they hold budget hearings; if you want more money in the budget you need to get the people to go and make it known. Ms. Simonelli questioned that if people come to those hearings and say it’s not enough money and it goes to referendum and it gets voted down, how is that interpreted? Co-Chairman Butenkoff indicated there will
be another hearing. Ms. Simonelli questioned that there are more people saying it can go up? Co-Chairman Butenkoff suggested there would be another public hearing. Ms. Simonelli noted that when the third referendum fails we’re back to zero. Commissioner Yosky suggested the people who want more education money need to get out there. First Selectman Menard noted that some people voted against the budget thinking the budget could go up
Jack Mannette, (also a member of the Board of Finance): suggested to Ms. Corrado that she was assuming that if the budget fails they would be coming in with a lower budget. Ms. Corrado clarified that it does come in that way. Mr. Mannette suggested if they raise the budget after the first referendum, and it fails, that was an indication that the budget was too high.
Mike Kowalski, 21 Church Street: suggested you will always have a contingency that will vote “no” no matter what. There should be something in there to keep the infrastructure from falling apart.
Paul Anderson, 89 Main Street: suggested the referendum is a method of voting on an opinion; the public hearing is a mechanism to voice that opinion. Nothing will change because you are dealing with human beings.
David Menard, 73 Miller Road: questioned that if the proposed charter revisions are rejected by the Board of Selectmen there are 45 days for the Charter Revision Commission to get a petition?
Co-Chairman Matthews first replied signatures of 1% of the voters are required; he then changed his statement to signature from 10% of the voters as the requirement. Mr. Menard questioned the number of voters in East Windsor? Commissioner Yosky suggested the number is 7500. Mr. Menard reported he has prepared budgets; you must listen to the people preparing them.
Bea Corrado, 1 Lindsay Lane: suggested that if you revert back to a zero budget there would be no growth in town. Commissioner Phillips questioned what Ms. Corrado would recommend? Ms. Corrado suggested two (2) or three (3) referendums, and also to look at similar communities, and maybe take an average. Mr. Burnham, speaking from the audience, questioned that Ms. Carrado thought the budget should go to the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance? Ms. Corrado replied affirmatively, and maybe set a formula after the second (referendum); give it back to the Board of Finance and Board of Selectmen to look at similar communities.
Jason Bowza, 34 Rye Street (also a member of the Board of Finance): felt what was being talked about was services vs. tax paying, but we are not remembering there is a significant amount of revenue the Town is not generating here. The school system feels the burden and gets cut but the school system is also the biggest recipient of revenue for a town. He guessed $5.5 million would be received from the State as ECS funding. We are robbing Peter to pay Paul. He felt there needs to be discussion that if the budget goes down, as it usually does, we should be looking at it in good faith.
Ed Filipone, 22 Scantic Road: agreed with Mr. Bowza. He suggested the Board of Education comes in (with a budget) and are told to reduce it, so they cut $100,000, but the budget is taken from the undesignated fund to make up for it.
Joyce Feeney, 19 Tree Top Lane: suggested rather than having multiple referendums have a single one, and have three (3) to five (5) (budget) options, and when the people come to vote ask them to vote on the one they choose. Mrs. Feeney reported she works for a municipality and has been asked to prepare multiple budgets with varying percentage of reductions; she suggested the Board of Selectmen needs to look at that option. Public Hearings must be held and the details of the budget must be made available. Mrs. Feeney felt it seemed like the referendums are a lot of people saying no; if you vote in the affirmative there is more incentive.
Mike Kowalski, 21 Church Street: indicated he could agree, but setting levels is difficult. His concern is a zero increase as an option; now you are splitting the vote. You will split it so the “no” votes will always win. We are talking about a charter that perpetuates the zero increase, and now you will have that zero increase there for five (5) years.
Co-Chairman Matthews suggested the Town gets their power by the (Connecticut General) Statutes, and there is a Statute that allows multiple budgets.
Paul Anderson, 89 Main Street: suggested the millions free from the State are monies coming back after a large percentage has been extracted.
First Selectman Menard (speaking as a resident and the First Selectman): reported she understood the CRC has received much information tonight, and she also understands part of your process doesn’t call for another Public Hearing but she felt the people don’t have a clear idea of questions, and whatever you decide goes to the Board of Selectmen next. First Selectman Menard questioned if the CRC should consider another Public Hearing? Commissioner Yosky suggested the Board of Selectmen will be holding a Public Hearing in May; if the CRC and the Board of Selectmen disagreed she would hope for a compromise.
Marie DeSousa, (also Chairmen of the Board of Finance): referenced the comments about looking at other towns, noting she disagreed. She reported East Windsor is still unique to East Windsor; what forces the budget is the referendums. If you don’t have the revenue and you don’t have the tax revenue ..... Mrs. DeSousa felt the budget needs to go back to the Board of Finance and the Board of Selectmen. Other towns may not have people losing jobs, or might have companies coming in to promote more growth.
Commissioner Yosky suggested the CRC had some different ideas, but they had the consultation from a lawyer who specializes in charter review who said you can’t do this and you can’t do that. Commissioner Yosky felt this is the best charter the CRC came up with. It gives the voters a say.
Commissioner Riach thanked everyone for coming. He felt there had been good discussion; he felt the people need to go out more to the Board of Finance, the Board of Education, and the Board of Selectmen meetings, or go on-line or watch the meetings on tv. He suggested the CRC had received a lot of information, which they will consider before passing the charter revisions on to the Board of Selectmen.
The PUBLIC HEARING closed at 8:35 p.m.
Co-Chairman Butenkoff called a RECESS at 8:35 p.m. The Commission RECONVENED at 8:45 p.m.
PREVIOUS MEETING MINUTES, COMMENTS, AND ACCEPTANCE 3/12/2009 REGULAR MEETING AND 3/19/2009 SPECIAL MEETING:
MOTION: To ACCEPT the Minutes of Special Meeting dated 3/19/2009 as written.
Riach moved/Phillips seconded/VOTE: In Favor: Unanimous
MOTION: To ACCEPT the Minutes of Regular Meeting dated 3/12/2009 as written.
Phillips moved/Riach seconded/VOTE: In Favor: Unanimous
WRITTEN INPUT SUBMITTED TO CRC: Nothing presented.
Commissioner Riach thanked James Kollter for videotaping the CRC Meetings, and also thanked Betsy Burns for doing all the work in the background.
The Commission gave Commissioner Yosky a round of applause for developing the PowerPoint presentation
ADMINISTRATIVE HOUSEKEEPING/(b) Query members for other items:
NOTE: Any language within this discussion segment of the Minutes that is shown as struckout type is deleted language, while any wording in bold italicized type which is underlined is new language.
At the March 19th Special Meeting the Commission had discussed with Karen Boutin, Chairman of the Housing Authority, and Attorney Ralph Alexander, the legal counsel for the Housing Authority, their concern for listing the Housing Authority within the Charter under Subparagraph H) - Housing Authority under Section 7-2 Appointed Boards and Commissions found in CHAPTER VII - BOARDS, AUTHORITIES, COMMISSIONS AND ASSOCIATIONS.
The Commission was advised that Attorney Mednick was made aware of that discussion; he subsequently spoke with Attorney Alexander regarding their concerns. Attorney Mednick has prepared for the CRC a revision of Subparagraph H.
Co-Chairman Matthews reported he wants to change the reference to the C.G.S. (Connecticut General Statutes) to “by ordinance”. Commissioner Yosky suggested the Housing Authority is a separate entity and not an agency of the Town. Because the Town built Park Hill it was then necessary to create the Housing Authority Commission, which was done by ordinance.
MOTION: To ACCEPT the wording as proposed by Attorney Mednick –
“Housing Authority, which shall carry out such responsibilities as a separate public
body corporate and politic and not as an agency of the Town, as set forth by C.G.S.”
Phillips moved/Riach seconded/
Discussion: Co-Chairman Matthews indicated he is uncomfortable with the deletion of the wording “by ordinance”. Commissioner Yosky and Co-Chairman Butenkoff noted Attorney Mednick had discussed this issue with Attorney Alexander prior to submitting this proposed revision.
VOTE: In Favor: Badstubner/Thompson/Riach/Riggott/Phillips/Yosky
Abstained: Co-Chairman Butenkoff, as Chair of the Meeting, didn’t cast a vote.
The Commission reviewed the following comments taken from the residents during the Public Hearing:
The Commission reviewed the timing of the budget message, which entity will present the budget message, and how it will be disseminated. The following revisions are proposed: CHAPTER VIII - FINANCE AND TAXATION, Subsection 8-4 D (revised from Subparagraph C) Deliberations on the Proposed Budget, 3) Miscellaneous Provisions Pertaining to Deliberations by the Board of Finance and Board of Education (a) “Budget a public record. The proposed Town and Board of Education Budgets shall be public records in the Office of the Town Clerk and shall be open to public inspection. The budget messages of Section 8-4C(3)(b), shall be printed by the Town and the Board of Education at the time of its submission to the public Board of Selectmen and Board of Education, and copies of the proposed Town
and Board of Education Budgets shall be made available at the same time for the use of the Board of selectmen, the Board of Finance, and the public.”
Amount of Supplementary Appropriations:
Co-Chairman Matthews suggested the Charter will be here for the next five (5) years; he didn’t feel the proposal for $30,000 was out of line. The Commission retained the monetary requirement as proposed under CHAPTER VIII - FINANCE AND TAXATION, Subsection 8-6 Duties of the Board of Finance on Other Financial Matters, Subparagraph B.
Letter of Transmittal:
Commissioner Yosky suggested the Letter of Transmittal should include the following recommendations:
1) Review and develop relationship with the Cemetery Association.
2) Create a committee to review and coordinate the existing ordinances for consistency with the current charter.
Number of referendums:
Commissioner Yosky recalled the Commission had talked about having two (2) or three (3) referendums, but had also considered including a cost of living increase. She felt the Commission dropped that proposal because of the problems described by the Tax Collector and the Assessor. Co-Chairman Butenkoff felt the proposal should remain at three (3) referendums, with NO cost of living increase. Commissioner Yosky felt the Commission should recognize the need for the support of the public officials. Co-Chairman Matthews agreed with Co-Chairman Butenkoff, noting the Commission had many votes on this issue, with every vote being two (2) Commissioners opposed to the no cost of living increase while the remainder of the Commissioners were in favor of that
proposal. Commissioner Thompson suggested the Town is trying to keep a zero increase budget. Commissioner Yosky suggested that was this year’s recommendation; she believes the economy will be back to normal in the future.
MOTION: To CHANGE the wording of CHAPTER VIII - FINANCE AND TAXATION, Section 8-5 Submission of the Budgets to Referendum, Subparagraph (4) Failure of the Budget following the Third Budget Referendum, as follows: “If the budget fails at the Third Referendum, the appropriations for the current fiscal
year shall remain in effect for the subsequent fiscal year the budget goes back to the previous year’s budget plus one half the most recent Consumer Price Index and shall be deemed to be the approved budget for such year........”
Matthews moved/Yosky seconded/VOTE: In Favor: Unanimous
NOTE: During the motion proposal the wording “cost of living increase” was changed to the “Consumer Price Index”.
Approval of personnel contracts at Town Meeting:
Co-Chairman Matthews felt the compensation side of the contracts should be subject to approval at Town Meeting. Commissioner Phillips recalled the previous public comments opposed that revision. Co-Chairman Matthews then suggested that since the Commission’s revision language limited personnel contracts to three (3) years he would back off on approval at Town Meeting. Co-Chairman Matthews referenced the eleven (11) year contract approved by the Police Commission. Discussion then turned to approval by the Board of Selectmen vs. approval by the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance.
MOTION: To CHANGE CHAPTER IX - TOWN EMPLOYEES, Section 9-2
Employee Status, to read as follows: “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 contract must be approved by the Board of Finance, and Board of Selectmen,
and Town Meeting. Financial consideration will be determined on the basis of the annual budget and performance.”
Matthews moved/Phillips seconded/VOTE: In Favor: Unanimous
REVIEW OF CRC MEMBERS input for proposed revisions: Nothing submitted.
DISCUSSION: Review of currently proposed changes/review for consistency, clarity, and compatibility:
See discussion above.
BRAINSTORM FOR ADDITIONAL ITEMS, NO COUNTER POINTS:
2nd PUBLIC PARTICIPATION:
No public present for discussion at this time.
GUIDANCE FOR NEXT MEETING:
MOTION: To HOLD A SPECIAL MEETING of the Charter Review Commission on Thursday, April 2nd, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.; location to be determined subject to review with the First Selectman’s office regarding availability of meeting space.
Yosky moved/Riach seconded/VOTE: In Favor: Unanimous
Proposed Agenda Items: Review of Section 8-4 FINANCE AND TAXATION; continued discussion of referendums; review and preparation of Transmittal Letter.
MOTION: To ADJOURN this Meeting at 9:50 p.m.
Badstubner moved/Phillips seconded/VOTE: In Favor: Unanimous
Peg Hoffman, Recording Secretary - East Windsor Charter Revision Commission
ATTACHMENT A available in the Town Clerk’s Office.
Electronic File Note: Please note “ATTACHMENT A” to these Minutes is located in the Town Clerk’s Office as the information was originally given as a PowerPoint presentation