Mayor instructs tax board to do its job

A&T to move forward with acting chair

Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti has instructed the city’s Board of Apportionment and Taxation to continue conducting its business as it would if it had a chairman.

The tax board members cast their votes for chairman at their December meeting, but have yet to elect a person to the position because they are at a stalemate, with three Democratic members voting one way and three Republican members voting another.

Democratic members of the Board of A&T Steven Guralnick, Joseph Knapik and Michelle Laubin stated their concerns about not having a chairman despite being sworn in to their positions back in November 2017.

Guralnick explained that the board members’ interpretation of the city charter is that the mayor is required to attend a meeting in order to break the tie and select the board chairman.

Lauretti has been in touch with the board and said the members’ interpretation of the charter is incorrect, they should be able to select a chair, and even without an official chairperson the board should be able to function to do the job its members were elected to do.

“They can’t agree on a chair? If I come and break the tie, they’ve got a chair. They know it’s going to happen eventually, so just move forward. They pick and choose what’s important. This is pretty petty. … Their interpretation of the City Charter is not correct,” said Lauretti, without offering clarification for what the charter section referenced by the Board of A&T members means, or at least his understanding of it. “Right now there is a chair. It’s an acting chair, but that should not impede any business they need to do, as evident in their last meeting, where they passed three items. They should do what they were elected to do and stop worrying about me.”

Guralnick said the board’s Jan. 25 meeting was facilitated by the acting chairman, Karen Battistelli, and the three line items passed that were referenced by Lauretti were done out of respect for everyone’s time.

He added that Lauretti told him if he were to attend the meeting he would vote for Battistelli to be chairman so it should move forward.

“They have an acting chair. They can vote on a chair, they don’t need me to break the tie. If they know something’s inevitable, why would that prohibit them from doing their job? It makes no sense. They’re more interested in me coming to their meetings? OK,” said Lauretti.

Guralnick said he doesn’t think Lauretti has any intention on showing up at the tax board’s meetings. Lauretti told Guralnick that he’s typically not available at the times of the tax board meetings.

“Whatever he’s doing I have no idea. It’s none of my business, but in my mind it’s his job,” said Guralnick in reference to the board’s understanding of the city charter.

“The charter states that at the first regular meeting of the board following the date on which the newly elected members take office, the board shall choose, by plurality vote, one of its members to be chairman of the board. The chairman shall preside in the absence of the mayor. Four members of the board, exclusive of the mayor, shall constitute a quorum to transact business. The board shall have the powers and duties conferred or imposed by this charter.”

“We should just give it up — he’s going to vote for her anyway,” said Guralnick.

The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. in City Hall.