Tax board still has no chairman

As of Jan. 24 the city’s Board of Apportionment and Taxation is operating without a chairman.

In a letter to the editor sent earlier this month, 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.

An excerpt from the letter reads as follows:

“At the first meeting scheduled for Nov. 30, 2017, we all appeared, three Democrats and three Republicans, and waited for the Mayor to appear and perform his duty pursuant to the Charter to convene the meeting so that we would be able to elect a Chairperson… The Mayor did not appear and could not be reached by phone. In the absence of the Mayor, we determined that we could not proceed. At the next regularly scheduled meeting on Dec. 28, 2017, we again assumed that the Mayor would appear and we could move forward. Much to our amazement, however, the Mayor did not appear at that meeting either Karen Battistelli acted as Chair Pro Tem for the purpose of convening the meeting, so she called the meeting to order, and we put nominations on the floor for Chair. However, as might have been expected, we cast two tie votes for Chair, with the three Democrats voting for the Democratic nominee and the three Republicans voting for the Republican nominee. Mrs. Battistelli attempted to reach the Mayor by telephone, but there was no answer. We waited almost 30 minutes with no response. So, once again, we have no Chair. Although we were told that there were no requested line-item transfers on which we would be asked to act, it was apparent from the budget run print-outs handed to us on the night of the meeting that there are many line items in the Town budget that have already been overspent, and these departments should be coming before the Board for action. Without a Chair, the Board simply cannot effectively perform the functions for which it has been elected.  We respectfully ask that the Mayor perform the functions required by the Charter, and appear at the next scheduled meeting prepared to break the tied votes as required. His failure to appear simply does not serve his constituents well, and it wastes the time of those of us who are volunteering to serve the city.”

Mayor Mark Lauretti was unavailable for comment as of Wednesday, Jan. 24.

Chapter 5 of the city charter, titled “Boards, Commissions, and Other Bodies,” states that in the event of a tie during the vote for a dhairperson, the mayor shall act as an ex-officio member of the board and cast the deciding vote.  

Chapter 5 reads as follows:

“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 (4) 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.”

Board of Aldermen President John Anglace instructed Board of A&T members to continue to contact the mayor directly despite the failure of their past efforts rather than seek advice from third parties, which in this case would be The Herald.

“A&T should schedule their meeting, tell the mayor he is needed to break a tie and ask him to attend,” said Anglace. “I’m sure he will respond. A&T cannot conduct their business talking to third parties. They should talk directly to the mayor.”

The Board of A&T is scheduled to meet Thursday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m. in city hall.