In February 2009, I wrote a column regarding the failure of the fire marshal to do his job in inspecting city schools as required by state statute. His own records proved he did not comply with the law.
After the fire at Shelton High School, the mayor formed a committee that he chaired to correct any code violations at the high school. Now four years later, we learn there are more than 500 fire code violations at SHS.
So who is responsible? Certainly the fire marshal has shown he does not follow the rules and is not performing his job up to acceptable standards.
Further, the person he reports to has not held him accountable and, in fact, because of his lack of proper management, has allowed the fire code violations to continue to exist.
Yes, some of the code violations maybe minor but even minor violations can lead to a fire. If these issues were not at least somewhat dangerous, why would they be included in the fire code?
It is time that the citizens of Shelton are served by a person capable of doing the job properly.
On top of the failure to properly inspect the high school, how many complaints about the fire marshal have been filed by the fire marshal’s staff regarding alleged harassment and discrimination?
The same person who reviewed the work and performance of the fire marshal also oversaw the deputy finance director, who now is charged — though not convicted — with stealing almost a million dollars in city funds.
Do you see a pattern here? This is the same person who puts forth a city budget that year after year has a $5 million operating surplus. That is almost 10% of the city’s operating budget.
If this person was running a small business and made a 10% profit, that would be good. But city government is a not-for-profit business.
Yes, property taxes where lowered this year, an election year, but how much more could taxes be lowed if $5 million were cut out of the operating budget that everyone knows won’t be spent?
How many miles of roads could be repaired, or improvements to the school system made, or new recreational faculties added with the $5 million?
Management of the city’s finances is important. No one can argue with that.
Management of staff is important as well. It is time for a city leader to hold the department heads accountable and measures their performance and the performance of their departments.
It is time to plan for the future of the city, putting money away for purchases and further reduction in debt.
It is time to bring all the city buildings up to fire code requirements. When buildings burn, people are hurt and property destroyed. Firefighters lives are put at risk.
It is more than saving money and having low taxes — it is about safe buildings and a well-managed government.
David Gioiello is chairman of the Shelton Democratic Town Committee.