Shelton charter revisions to go to voters

Shelton City Hall.

Shelton City Hall.

Contributed photo

SHELTON — The voting booth is the next stop for proposed revisions to the city charter.

The Board of Aldermen, in a special meeting Tuesday at City Hall, voted to place the revisions — which include elimination of the Board of Apportionment and Taxation and increasing party maximums for elected positions — on the Nov. 3 ballot.

Shelton voters on their ballots, along with choosing a president, will be asked “Shall the charter of the city of Shelton be revised in accordance with the report and recommendations of the charter revision commission?”

The aldermen approved the revisions only days after the Charter Revision Commission gave a nod to a final revised charter document on Friday. The revised document contained the commission’s recommendations as well as changes offered by the aldermen.

“We now will be able to present the voters in November with a charter that expands voter power by eliminating boards appointed by the Republican and Democratic town committees and giving incentives for political parties to nominate more people to run for office,” Charter Revision Commission Chair Dan Debicella said.

“We also put new checks and balances in place by requiring all appointed boards to be approved by the Board of Aldermen — not just appointed by the mayor,” Debicella added.

The charter revisions include elimination of the Board of Apportionment and Taxation and increasing party maximums for elected positions. Elimination of the Board of Apportionment and Taxation would transfer all financial responsibilities to the aldermen, the city’s fiscal authority.

The commission also recommended increased majority party maximums, highlighted with a Board of Education shift from a near-even political split — 5 to 4 — to a heavily weighted 6 to 3. The Planning and Zoning Commission would also be expanded from six to seven members.

The commission also proposed increasing the level of bonding the Board of Aldermen can do without a referendum from 2 percent to 3 percent.

Opponents have stated that the revisions will further reduce checks and balances and lay even more power in the hands of the mayor. Supporters have denied that.

The Charter Revision Commission at its workshop Aug. 17 agreed with the majority of the aldermen’s recommended changes, most of which were technical.

The major changes involved the bidding process. The commission agreed with the aldermen’s recommendation that the city go to bid on purchases of more than $15,000, rather than the $25,000 the commission had proposed.

Commissioners also agreed with the aldermen’s recommended language regarding the Public Improvement Building Committee. The new language states that the seven-member committee will handle projects of less than $500,000. This committee, or another separate committee can be formed, to handle projects of more than $500,000.