Charter revision may bring end to Shelton’ A&T
SHELTON — Charter Revision Commission members are considering eliminating the Board of Apportionment and Taxation.
The commission, during its April 6 virtual meeting, unanimously rejected suggestions to expand A&T’s financial authority and oversight of the all-Republican aldermanic board and mayor, instead proposing to abolish the board altogether and shift the budget line-item transfer power to the Board of Aldermen’s Finance Committee.
The commission is composed of four Republicans, two unaffiliated voters and one Democrat.
"Everything here should be treated as a ‘work-in-progress,’” said commission Chair Dan Debicella, “but you can see how the commission's thinking is evolving. These were unanimous feelings by the commission. We still could change our minds, but this is where we are today.”
The charter calls for the mayor to submit a budget to the Board of Aldermen and A&T in a joint session. A&T deliberates on the budget proposal and either approves it as submitted or submits a different budget plan and tax rate to the Board of Aldermen no later than May 1.
A&T is also responsible for approving all line item transfers within a department budget during the fiscal year.
Board of Aldermen President John Anglace Jr., in a letter he submitted to the commission as a private citizen, stated that A&T had become “superfluous” and should be eliminated from the charter.
“The Board of Aldermen is the fiscal authority of the city,” said Anglace, who was a member of A&T in the late 1960s, when the board was the city’s fiscal authority.
“It is (the Board of Aldermen’s) financial decisions that are subject to review by the voting public,” added Anglace. “They do not need an advisory board to second guess their fiscal decisions … that’s the job of the electorate.”
Mayor Mark Lauretti agreed, saying at a Charter Revision Commission meeting last month that A&T was redundant since the Board of Aldermen’s finance committee has the same authority.
“I think A&T is a waste of everyone’s time,” said Lauretti. The Board of Aldermen is the city’s financial authority and can aptly handle the transfer requests that go before A&T, he said.
Lauretti also said the 3-3 nature of the board makes it “a very political board” which only serves to stall necessary budgetary work.
Anglace said A&T has not reached consensus on a recommended budget for several years, “consequently, they add no value to the budget-making process unless one is interested in hearing the minority party call for reducing the police and public works department budgets and adding those monies to the Board of Education budget.
“It’s time to move on,” added Anglace.
During the April 6 meeting, commissioners agreed that giving more power to the A&T was not an option, and since the Board of Aldermen’s Finance Committee already handles most budget decisions, the A&T was redundant and could easily be eliminated.
“I don’t see a purpose (for A&T),” said commission member Donald Sheehy.
Member Gary Defilippo agreed, saying he did not see a use for A&T since its function mirrors that of the Board of Aldermen, which is the city’s final fiscal authority.
“Why do we need it?” asked Defilippo.
Board of Apportionment and Taxation member Joseph Knapik, a Democrat, disagreed about eliminating A&T.
“An avenue for divergent questioning of an administration's financial efficiency should be maintained,” said Knapik. “An inclusive democratic process must be had. A fiscal authority should not be monolithic.That is the way the politicized charter commission is headed.”
At present, the six-member Board of Apportionment and Taxation is composed of three members from each political party, and the Republican mayor’s vote is required to break any tie.
The commission is planning more workshops on several Mondays. Meetings to deliberate will be in May, and a second public hearing would be held sometime in late May or June. Residents can view virtual meetings on the city YouTube site or at the commission’s YouTube site at SheltonCharter2020.