FINAL REPORT OF THE CHARTER REVISION COMMISSION
TO THE BOARD OF COUNCILMEN
July 16, 2012
The charter Revision Commission was established by the Board of Councilmen on August 15, 2011. The appointed members were: Vic Muschell, James McKenna, Marie Soliani, Gerry Zordan, Elinor Carbone, Debra Brown, James Thibault, James Steck, and Bill Battle.
The Commission held its first meeting on September 26, 2011 and had numerous meetings thereafter. The Commission was asked to complete its work in such a manner that any recommendations for changes to the Charter could appear on the November, 2012 ballot. The officers of the Commission throughout its existence and currently are: Elinor Carbone, Chair; Victor Muschell, Vice Chair; James Steck, Secretary.
Public hearing were held on October 11, 2011 and May 17, 2012. The Commission submitted its draft to the public at the May 17, 2012 public hearing.
The Commission received input and suggestions covering a number of issues; all of which were considered. The Commission’s process was to prioritize the issues and to present no more than five questions to the voters.
Schedule A attached hereto is a list of issues that were eliminated without debate as low priority issues or recommendations that could not be addressed through Charter revision or recommendations presented without sufficient time to consider.
Schedule B attached hereto is a list of issues raised and debated, however, the Commission has made no recommendation.
The following are issues raised that are addressed in its recommended changes to the Charter contained in this report:
1. Amend language in Charter Section C11-2 through C11-3 pertaining to discipline of Police and Fire Department officers.
2. Amend Charter Section C13-7 and C13-8 to increase limit for extraordinary expenditures from $100,000.00 to $235,000.00
3. Revised Charter Section C13-7 and C13-8 to allow for two-step approval process for extraordinary expenditures.
4. Amend Charter Section C8-2 to allow vacancies that occur on the Board of Education to be filled for the unexpired portion of the term of the office?
5. Request charter amendments to make technical changes to sections C15-1, C13-1, C4-1, C8-2 and C13-3.
RECOMMENDATIONS DETERMINED TO BE OF LOW PRIORITY Or UNRELATED
TO CHARTER or PRESENTED WITH INSUFFICIENT TIME TO DELIBERATE
1. Can a non-resident serve as a member of a city commission?
2. Corporation Counsel (can this position be made part-time) Title VI C6-1.
3. Create a real estate review board - New
4. Term Limits – New
5. Change Budget Cycle – TITLE XIII §C13-1 through C13-12
6. Joint Capital Fund between City & BOE – New
7. Create Procedure for Charter Violations
8. Mandate a referendum for city & BOE budget approval
9. Simplify Language in Title XVII
10 Change Language from Fire Department to Department of Fire & Rescue Services.
11. Change language in Section C11-8
12. Review charter provisions dealing with use of city employees doing city work vs. outside contractors bidding on same.
13. Amend Blight Ordinance.
14. Language relative to oversight of Torrington Housing Authority – New
15. Job Descriptions for Registrars office, Personnel Director
16. City Clerk/Registrar of Vital Statistics – can this become an appointed position - Title V §C5-1 through C5-3
17. Treasurer – can this be eliminated from the Charter - Title VII §C7-1 through C7-3
18. Eliminate Selectman from Ballot – Title II Election §C2-1B(6)
19. Eliminate Constable position from ballot – Title II Election §C2-1B(8)
20. Make Board of Finance an elected position – New
21. Eliminate Board of Public Safety or make positions appointed – Title II §C2-1B(4)
22. Decrease Minimum % requirements for passage of referendum
23. Change Language in §C11-7
24. Reduce number of BOE members from 10, Title II §C8-1
25. Revise authority of Board of Finance to limit budget cuts to bottom line, not line item adjustments.
26. Consider changing the Mayor/Council structure to City Manager/Council or adding a provision to allow for city manager.
27. Consider establishing an over-site board that will review public complaints regarding public safety departments.
28. Public participation requirement for each publicly held meeting
29. Creation of an independent Coe Memorial Park Committee
RECOMMENDATIONS DEBATED RESULTING IN NO RECOMMENDATION
1. Extending terms of office for various elected officials / change terms of BOE – Title II §C2-1B.
After considerable research and discussion, the Commission felt that there were both philosophical and economic issues to be considered in the suggestion of extending terms for the Council and Treasurer. The Commission reviewed baseline data on the voter turnout, and costs of municipal elections, it reviewed potential alignment of election cycles of Board of Education and Board of Safety, and after reviewing several election scenarios could not come to a viable option that would not adversely impact the Boards of Education and Board of Safety and result in an economic benefit.
2. Tax Collector - Title XIV §C14-1 through C14-4.
Based upon an extensive collection and review of tax collection data from other municipalities, discussion about the existing Charter language, public act and review of costs of operating a tax collection department, the Commission determined that it would not advance this recommendation.