To the Editor:

Some years ago before I even ran for public office, I had a conversation with Mayor Lauretti. The substance of that conversation was the importance of the Board of Apportionment and Taxation. He indicated to me that the Board of A&T was a vital instrument in our local government, going so far as to say that it was the most important board that we had here in Shelton. And I remember him telling me that if I wanted to serve, that’s where I should start.

In recent months as I have watched the charter revision proposal come together, I had to reflect on that conversation. The Board of A&T serves as a safeguard in the city budget process and assures transparency in that undertaking. The members of the board are tasked with reviewing proposed budgets from city departments and making recommendations on behalf of our citizens regarding those departmental budgets. In short, the Board of A&T assures that our tax dollars have a reasonable, valuable plan before our tax rate is set each year.

So it was with great surprise, keeping in mind our conversation from years ago, that I have heard the mayor fervently endorse disbanding the Board of A&T with this year’s charter revision. He even recorded and broadcast a vague robocall endorsing the charter revision without stating what the revision entailed. At the end of the robocall, he indicated that he paid for it himself.

I found all of this quite curious, and it raises many questions. Why would he not inform his constituency what the revision entails? Why would he reverse himself from his stance that the Board of A&T was so important? Finally, what does this all mean? What hurdle is transparent participatory government posing for Lauretti? Why is he so desperate to get the revision passed by voters?

There is no logic to this move. Removing the Board of A&T is something that we all have to live with for the next decade. Specifically, it means that future Shelton administrations can rather easily either raise our taxes or conversely drastically cut essential city services without any oversight. It is something that is nearly impossible to undo.

This concentration of power is disturbing and puts our city at risk on many fronts not limited to fiscal transparency, but also includes health and safety. I am speculating here, but there would be no oversight for the administration to do something drastic like cutting the police department budget in half. How safe would we all feel if that happened? There are many other scenarios that one could imagine should the Board of A&T be dissolved and very few of them are positive for our city.

Therefore, I implore all citizens of Shelton to maintain our quality of life by voting no on the proposed charter revision.

David Gidwani

Alderman, First Ward