Letter: Alderman details why charter changes will benefit Shelton

Below is a Letter to the Editor from this week's Shelton Herald. If you'd like to have a letter to the editor run next week, email letters to brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com

Below is a Letter to the Editor from this week's Shelton Herald. If you'd like to have a letter to the editor run next week, email letters to brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com

Contributed photo

To the Editor:

The Shelton Herald has printed several letters from Democrats objecting to the charter revision recommendations.

First, they objected on the basis that their recommendations were not appointed. Then they objected saying that they did not know the Democrat who was appointed (Don Sheehy). Then they objected because the Board of Apportionment and Taxation (A&T) was being eliminated. Then they objected on the basis that “checks and balances” were being eliminated.

Let’s look at the appointment process — this time versus last time. In 2012, there were nine members appointed to the Charter Revision Commission (CRC) (four Republicans, two Democrats and three Unaffiliated). In 2020, there were seven members appointed (four Republicans, two Unaffiliated and one Democrat). Do the Democrats expect that the local majority party would give them equal say in the process? That is not the way the Democrats at the state level manage the minority party Republican appointments. Why would they expect something different at the local level? The law requires minority party representation on the CRC. In this case, the Board of Aldermen choose to appoint four majority party members and three minority party members … two Unaffiliated members (one because she had previously served on the 2012 Charter Revision Commission, and one because he had an extensive education background) … and one Democrat to make up the three person minority party.

The lone Democrat appointed to complete the minority representation requirement (who the local Democrats still do not know) is a lifelong city resident with an extensive family business history. He has an insurance, real estate, property appraisal, risk management and extensive building background with volunteer service to the city as chairman of several Board of Education school building committees spanning more than ten years, and the Democrats still do not know him?

Next is the Democrat objection on the basis that the A&T is being eliminated from the charter. This, they claim, will eliminate “checks and balances,” which is essential to the development of a budget. A look at Shelton charter history would be helpful to understand this claim. Back in 1967, the Board of Aldermen (BOA) was the legislative authority and the A&T was the fiscal authority. The BOA would legislate but A&T would not fund their projects. This led to a charter change during the ‘70s when the BOA was made the legislative and fiscal authority of the city and given final say over the budget and mil rate. Since then, there have been Boards of Aldermen consisting of all Democrat, all Republican and boards that have successfully carried out the business of the city. The three Democrat and three Republican A&T board was vested with the budget duty to conduct joint departmental budget hearings with the BOA and to make an independent budget recommendation. They were also given authority to approve departmental line item transfers.

A&T has only made one independent budget recommendation to the BOA over the last 10 years and that was not accepted. The Democrat members of A&T have used this forum to advocate defunding the police department and public works and giving that money to education. The Democrats have also advocated this same philosophy at every election and the voters of Shelton have continued to reject their views. The checks and balances occur in November of every odd numbered year when the voters of Shelton go to the polls and select their representatives.

Of utmost importance, this Charter Revision Commission has listened to the plea from the city and the Board of Education to address the need for a joint technology committee. Based on a previous 12-year successful experiment and the unfortunate COVID-19 pandemic we know that the need for additional virtual community interaction and the future of student learning must be provided for in this charter Revision if we are to progress over the next 10 years.

I urge everyone to support this charter revision as it provides the systematic plan to manage our community growth while providing for our student educational needs.

Anthony Simonetti

Board of Aldermen