Cromwell City Council rejects proposed Finance Committee changes

CROMWELL — Members of the finance committee came to the city council’s latest meeting to protest proposed bylaw revisions that would have overtaken their board.

Her appeal was successful, as the City Council voted unanimously not to include those changes in the November vote.

A public hearing was held on August 10 to discuss possible changes to the Cromwell Charter, which is subject to revision every five years.

The Charter Revision Committee proposed reducing the membership of the Finance Committee from six to five to avoid the possibility of a tie. The commission also proposed reducing the term limit for board members from six to four years, as shorter terms would increase willingness to join.

But four board members who spoke at the hearing said they didn’t understand the logic behind the reorganization, particularly given the board’s effectiveness in recent years. The mill rate has been relatively flat over the past decade, they said.

The Chair of the Finance Committee, John Ireland, said that reducing the number of members on the committee would damage the system of checks and balances in the city government. A reduction in the term of office to promote participation does not make sense because the board is full.

“It’s really hard for me to see how any of these issues related to the city’s tax office are going to help the city in any way,” Ireland said. “What are we doing that is so outrageous that we need to overhaul this system? I don’t understand what this is supposed to achieve.”

Chief Financial Officer Ed Maley succinctly put his objection to the changes: “If it ain’t broke, why are we fixing it?”

The commission proposed another controversial revision that would have essentially given the city council the power to override changes made by the finance committee to the annual proposed budget. This amendment was also rejected by the Council.

“There were times when I was unhappy with the Finance Committee’s decision. But I believe that is the purpose of the Finance Committee,” said Councilor James Demetriades. “I don’t think that provision would be beneficial to the city.”

Some of the recommended revisions, which will appear on the ballot as a referendum, include increasing the term limit for city council members from two to four years – with continuous rather than staggered terms – and appointing positions of city clerk and tax collector instead of by election.

Charter Review Commission Vice-Chairman Mike Cannata said he values ​​the public’s comments and opinions.

“At the end of the day we threw a lot of stuff at the wall and now it’s up to (City Council) and (Finance Committee) to decide what’s working and what’s not working,” Cannata said.

Residents voted against an amendment to the charter during the last revision process in 2017, officials said.

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