Letter: Calls on residents to oppose charter changes
To the Editor:
This is being written by myself and not a ghost writer.
The residents of Shelton will be asked to review a new proposed charter for the City of Shelton. The last revision to our charter was approved in 1994.
A city charter is a legal document that establishes the municipality’s form of government, elected and administrative officials and municipal elections. It deals with financial matters and the power to tax us. A charter is necessary for the running of administrative functions.
Minority representation is applicable to any board or commission. Thus, the Board of Apportionment and Taxation and Board of Education both fall under minority representation. Sadly, this will be abused on both boards to dilute minority voting power and the removal of checks and balances.
The Board of Apportionment and Taxation has three members from the same political party. The mayor is the ex-officio member and shall be present at all meetings, according to the current charter. The mayor presents the budget to the Board of Apportionment and Taxation and the Board of Aldermen. The Board of Appropriation and Taxation invites the Board of Aldermen to participate with the departmental hearings on the proposed budget. This year the Republican members failed to hold budget hearings and the budget was passed on to the Board of Aldermen with no recommendations. The Board of Apportionment and Taxation has been in the charter for as long as I can remember, if not longer. By removing the Board of Apportionment and Taxation, the mayor will be doing away with checks and balances.
The mayor has stated many times that he would like the Board of Apportionment and Taxation removed from the charter. With that being said, it is easy to see why the proposed charter has removed their minority representation and removed any checks and balances with financial issues that would have appeared on their agendas. He is flexing his muscles wherever he can.
The Board of Education is also elected but governed by minority representation. Under our current charter, no more than five members shall come from the same political party with the remainder coming from the other party. Under the proposed charter change, it reads six from the same political party with the remaining three from the other party. Minority representation is being reduced by the mayor. We all know the mayor and the Board of Aldermen do not fund education to a level of importance. With the new charter that is being proposed, now he is going to finally win the war on education. Again, he is flexing his muscles wherever he can.
The Board of Aldermen by the current charter has been authorized to bond up to (2 percent) $2 million for any purpose in a single year without the approval of the electorate. They are now requesting it to be increased to (3 percent) $3 million on various projects under the sole approval of the aldermen. Those bonds shall be authorized only by three quarters of the entire Board of Aldermen.
A city charter should be molded for the residents of the city, not solely fitting the needs or wants of one person. When the Board of Aldermen approved the charter changes at their meeting, the mayor urged them to get out and sell the proposed charter. I would recommend that the electors not accept the proposed changes in the charter. Vote “no” on the charter. Do not allow the mayor to take away the democracy we all enjoy as citizens of the city of Shelton.
John “Jack“ Finn
Former First Ward Alderman