New Milford to revise charter

NEW MILFORD — A long-overdue review of the town charter will soon begin.

The town charter calls for a charter review every five years, yet the last time a committee was created for this task was 12 years ago.

Mayor Pete Bass on Monday proposed to create a new committee to review town regulations, and the Town Council approved the request.

A charter committee is required by both state law and the town charter, the latter of which specifies how much time should pass between each review.

Bass said he noticed it had been too long since the town had formed a charter committee as he was reviewing the local regulations last month. “We noticed we were overdue,” he said.

Town Council will approve the size of the committee, the members and special items the committee will consider at its Feb. 26 meeting. The council will also set a deadline for the committee’s report at that time.

Anyone interested in serving on the committee should contact the Mayor’s Office by Feb. 25.

Any items people want the committee to review should be submitted by Feb. 23.

Based on previous reviews, Bass expects the revision to take about nine months, but he said it will depend on how quickly and how often the committee is able to meet and determine which changes, if any, should be made.

Bass said he hopes to strengthen the Board of Finance’s responsibilities and role in the charter.

“It should make sure it’s clear cut that the Board of Finance is the third set of eyes when it comes to budgetary items,” he said.

He said there shouldn’t be any open interpretation on town expenditures and that any use of tax dollars or town money should go to the board, including allocations from the waste management fund.

The use of the waste management fund came under scrutiny when former Mayor David Gronbach decided to use a portion of the fund to pay for the renovations at the John Pettibone Community Center. He said because it wasn’t tax dollars, but money paid to the town as part of a settlement with an outside company, the appropriation didn’t require Board of Finance approval.

This resulted in a still-unresolved lawsuit filed by resident Michael Barnes, who also served as chairman of the Republican Town Committee.

“I want to make sure we’re doing the best for our town,” Bass said.; 203-731-3345