Letter: Shelton charter revisions remove hiring and firing, budget accountability

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

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To the Editor:

By now you have heard a lot about the proposed Shelton charter revision Mayor Lauretti is ushering through. Few issues have brought together Democrats and Republicans in this city more than the clear consolidation of power this charter would enact. On Nov. 3, you should vote no on the charter revision.

The charter revision removes an important financial oversight board — the Board of Apportionment and Taxation. I served on this board, and know it plays a critical role in the setting and monitoring of the city budget. In fact, it is the only body solely charged to meet with departments to understand their financial dealings. The charter revision removes the discretion commissions have for staffing and personnel. The charter revision would put the hiring and removal of all staff in the hands of the mayor’s office. This removes another layer of accountability in city government and further concentrates power to a select few.

The charter revision alters meaningful representation on the Board of Education and Planning & Zoning Commission for the end goal of less public involvement, and more majority-party representation on nearly every elected board. Government should be looking for ways to bring more people into the process, not restricting access and participation. I serve on the Planning and Zoning Commission, where we often hear developments that will shape the future of our city. Most decisions are reached by consensus, close to or nearly unanimous. In fact, it takes four votes to pass a zone change on a six-member commission. The proposed charter revision, including the changes proposed for Planning and Zoning, are geared toward enhancing one party control so the deck is always stacked against the public. Having less balance in city governance is not the way to promote public trust.

The charter revision changes to the Library Board are even being called into question about their validity as they appear to conflict with the state statutes governed by the Connecticut Public Library Board of Directors.

Advocates for the charter revision say this creates a technology committee which the city is solely in need of. The reality is the Board of Aldermen can create ad-hoc committees anytime and should address our technology needs by doing so immediately.

In the last few years, Shelton’s surplus evaporated, and a city employee stole more than $1 million of taxpayer money, yet the charter revision reduces the amount of checks and balances on financial operations and removes any remaining independent process in the city. Don’t take my word for it. Review the proposed changes for yourself and you will see long-standing oversight procedures now crossed-out throughout the charter revision.

Elected officials have a deal with the public — you do good by them and make decisions with them in mind. This charter revision breaks that deal by removing independent processes and blatantly bolstering a select few and the mayor’s office. Vote no to the charter revision.

Jimmy Tickey

Planning & Zoning Commissioner 2013 - current

Apportionment & Taxation Vice Chair 2011 - 2013