New Milford charter revisions head back to commission
Town Council has left the revisions to the town charter relatively the same as presented by the committee tasked to update the document.
The only suggestion came from Councilman Michael Gold, who said he would like to see the budgets for the town and schools separated more so that only the budget that fails goes back to voters.
“If one passes, whether it’s the town or the Board of Education, it sticks,” he said.
The revision commission will use this to create a final draft. That draft will go back to Town Council one last time before heading to voters on the November ballot, pending the council’s approval.
The charter was last revised in 2006, though the document calls for a review every five years.
The council gave six suggestions when the review process started earlier this year. Of those suggestions, only two are recommended by the commission.
The bulk of the proposed revisions are connected to town finances.
This includes sending the budget back to the finance board if it fails at referendum instead of Town Council, increasing the number of people on the finance board so there’s an odd number of voting members, lowering the threshold for what would send a supplemental appropriation to a town meeting and adding more oversight to the finance director’s ability to invest town money or use special funds.
The revised charter would provide more options for voters to choose from when answering the advisory questions about the proposed spending levels in the budget.
Former finance board chairman Gale Alexander proposed abolishing the finance board during the public hearing on the revisions prior to Monday’s Council meeting.
He said it acts as a check on Town Council, but that isn’t as pressing a need anymore. He said the finance board instead acts more like a “father on vacation now,” making sure there’s money for the town to spend without having any say on where that money actually goes. The finance board has control over several areas of money, but not specific line items.
Alexander suggested changing the election process from nine at-large seats to a representative for each.
Another proposed change includes unifying the terms for appointed boards and commissions so members would serve four years, with Feb. 1 start dates.
The rest of the changes proposed cleaned up language and the organization within the charter to make the regulations’ intent clear.
Town Council has not decided whether to include combining the planning and zoning commissions in the revisions. The commission did not recommend combining them because there weren’t enough efficiencies and both groups wanted to remain separate.