Town of East Hampton, CT
20 East High Street, East Hampton, CT 06424
3/18/2010 Charter Revision Minutes
Unapproved
Charter Revision Commission
Regular Meeting
March 18, 2010

Commission Members Present:  Commissioners Dave Balthazar, Melissa Engel, Vice Chairperson Julie Ciucias, and Chairperson Terry Concannon.

Also Present:  Town Manager Jeffrey O’Keefe, Town Attorney Jean D’Aquila, and Town Clerk Sandi Wieleba

Absent:  Commissioner John Tuttle

Meeting Called to Order

The regular meeting of the Charter Revision Commission was called to order at 7:00 p.m.  

Approval of the Minutes of March 11, 2010

Motion:  Commissioner Engel made a motion to approve the minutes, as amended, of March 11, 2010, seconded by Vice Chairperson Ciucias.

All members voted in favor of the minutes as amended. Motion passed 4-0.

Public Remarks

Laurie Wasilewski, Hog Hill Road, hoped that the Commission listened to the comments made at the March 1st public hearing.  In particular, she was concerned with changing the number of referenda that would be allowed in order to pass a budget.  The Commission assured her that the method used to pass a budget would remain and there would be no limit on the number of times it would take to pass a budget.  Commissioner Engel stated that the Charter Revision Commission voted not to make any changes to this section.  

Chairperson Concannon closed the Public Remarks portion of the meeting.

Review Proposed Language voted at March 11th Meeting

CHAPTER II. THE TOWN COUNCIL

Section 2.1. Election.

“At each biennial election there shall be elected seven members of the Town Council, hereinafter referred to as the "council", all for terms of two years, who shall serve without compensation. Not more than five of the members shall be of the same political party. No member shall hold any other office position under the government of the Town of East Hampton, nor shall be, during the term of office for which he is elected, and for two years thereafter, be appointed to any office or a position of profit under the government of said town.”

Commissioner Engel wished to clarify the last sentence of this section.  Her intent for this section was while holding office you may not work for the town in a profitable position.   

She wished to have it read:

‘No member shall hold any position of profit under the government of the Town of East Hampton during their term of office which he/she is elected and for two years after”.

Attorney D’Aquila suggested the words “paid position” as opposed to “profitable position”.
 
It was suggested to add back in “or other office”.

A discussion ensued as to the best method in order to prevent serving on two commissions that could present a conflict such as Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning and Zoning Commission.  

Town Attorney D’Aquila reviewed the positions that were subsidiaries of the Council which included:   task forces, ad hocs, sub-committees, and committees.

Attorney D’Aquila suggested:  “Additionally, no member shall serve in another elected or appointed office during the time of office for which he/she is elected, except for appointments to ad hoc committees, sub committees, committees and task forces of the Town Council.”

The intent was to prevent someone from serving on a committee in which they have something to gain both financially.  Attorney D’Aquila mentioned that the term profit was not only financially, but could represent favorable treatment, etc.   She also understood the need to clarify the term profit to be broader and not limited to a financial gain.

The commission reviewed possible scenarios in which someone could receive favorable treatment as opposed to getting a position of profit.

Commissioner Engel wanted to know if it should be phrased “position of financial profit”.  

It was pointed out that this section has never changed in the 35-years and has never been challenged.

The intent was to allow an individual to volunteer on another committee and not have to wait two years after leaving the Town Council.

Language provided by Attorney D’Aquila:

CHAPTER II. THE TOWN COUNCIL

Section 2.1. Election.

At each biennial election there shall be elected seven members of the The Town Council, hereinafter referred to as the "council", shall consist of seven members all for four year overlapping terms, of two years, who shall serve without compensation. Not more than five of the members shall be of the same political party. At the biennial election of 2011, the top four candidates receiving the highest number of votes will serve the first shall be elected to a four year term of office and three candidates shall be elected to a two year term of office.  An elector may vote for no more than three candidates running for a four year term and no more than two candidates running for a two year term. For each biennial election after 2011, the number of members to be elected will be determined by the number of members whose terms are expiring and each candidate will be elected to a four year term of office.  , provided that no more than five of the members shall be of the same political party.  The subsequent number of candidates for each biennial election thereafter, will be determined by those whose terms are expiring and will be elected for four year overlapping terms.  No member shall hold any other office position of profit under the government of the Town of East Hampton during , nor shall be, during the term of office for which he or she is elected, and for two years thereafter., be appointed to any office or position of profit under the government of said town. Additionally, no member shall serve in another elected or appointed office under the government of the Town of East Hampton during the term of office for which he or she  is elected, except for ad hoc committees, sub-committees, and task forces appointed by the council and a Charter Revision Commission.

Section 2.2. Chairman/Vice Chair.

The council shall hold an organizational meeting on the first Wednesday next regular Town Council meeting following the regular biennial town election in November, 1989, and biennially thereafter, for the purpose of choosing one of its members to be chairman [and one of its members to be vice chair]. but this office This office shall not deprive the chairman of his [ its] his/her vote on any question. He The chair shall preside over all meetings of the council and perform such other duties consistent with his the office as may be imposed by the council. He The chair shall be recognized as the official head of the town for all ceremonial purposes, for military purposes and for the purpose of serving civil process. During the chair’s absence or disability the chair’s duties shall be performed by another member chosen by the council except as otherwise specifically provided in this charter.

Chairperson Concannon wished to make changes to the language above and place this phrase before the last sentence:

The council shall also elect one of its members as vice chair and during…

Vice Chairperson Ciucias did not feel that it was clear that the vice chair was being elected at the organizational meeting.

It was suggested placing this proposed language before the sixth sentence “The chair…”

Language provided by Attorney D’Aquila:

Section 2.2. Chair/Vice-Chair.

The council shall hold an organizational meeting at the next regular Town Council meeting on the first Wednesday following the regular biennial town election in November, 1989 2011, and biennially thereafter, for the purpose of choosing one of its members to be chairman, but this office shall not deprive the chairman of his their vote on any question. He The Council shall also elect one of its members as Vice-Chair.  The Chair shall preside over all meetings of the council and perform such other duties consistent with his office as may be imposed by the council. HeThe Chair shall be recognized as the official head of the town for all ceremonial purposes, for military purposes and for the purpose of serving civil process. During his the Chair’s absence or disability his the duties shall be performed by the Vice-Chair or another member chosen by the council except as otherwise specifically provided in this charter.

CHAPTER III. TOWN MANAGER

Section 3.1. Selection.

The town manager shall be chosen by the council exclusively on the basis of his administrative qualifications, character and experience. He/she shall be the chief executive officer and chief administrative officer of the town. At the time of his appointment the town manager need not be a resident of the town of East Hampton, but within one year of the commencement of his term as town manager he shall establish and maintain residence in the town.

Commissioner Engel wished to add language concerning a performance evaluation.  

He/she shall undergo a performance evaluation by the Town Council no less than every 18 months.

Vice Chairperson Ciucias wanted to rephrase it that the burden was on the Town Council to perform the review and not the Town Manager.

Chairperson Concannon felt the current language was too generally.  She supported an annual review rather than 18 months.  

Commissioner Engel stated:

o       The need for this language to be included in the Charter which would force the Town Council to perform an evaluation.
o       In the past, a performance evaluation on the Town Manager had not been done on a regular basis.
o       She supported 18 months because it was too difficult to do this evaluation within one year.
o       She felt it was unfair not to meet and review objectives and goals with the Town Manager.
o       The Town Manager’s contract included a 3% increase every year.  Any additional increases would be at the discretion of the Town Council based upon merit.
o       This was both efficient and economical.

It was suggested adding within six months of the Town Manager’s anniversary date which would be 18 months.

Commissioner Engel mentioned that the Town Council should be mindful of a budget cycle for completing this process.  She stressed the importance of having a performance evaluation done and goals be identified.

Vice Chairperson agreed with the importance of having a performance evaluation done in order to have a dialog with the employee and establish goals and that it was a disservice not to have it done.  

Attorney D’Aquila will provide specific language for this section.

Commissioner Engel asked which month the budget preparation began.  It was indicated that December or January was when town employees began to prepare their budgets.

Attorney D’Aquila suggested adding this sentence “The Town Council shall perform a performance evaluation of the Town Manager annually by December 31st.”

Commissioner Engel made a motion to add to Section 3.1 the sentence as crafted by Attorney D’Aquila seconded by Vice Chairperson Ciucias.

All members voted in favor of the minutes as amended. Motion passed 4-0.

Attorney D’Aquila brought up the fact that two Town Council members were serving on the Charter Revision Commission and the need to add “Commission” to Section 2.1 when listing the exceptions.  It was mentioned that State Statute identified who could serve on the Charter Revision Commission which included elected officials.

Town Manager O’Keefe suggested adding the words “unless allowed by State Statute”.

Language provided by Attorney D’Aquila:

CHAPTER III. TOWN MANAGER

Section 3.1. Selection.

The town manager shall be chosen by the council exclusively on the basis of his or her administrative qualifications, character and experience. He or she shall be the chief executive officer and chief administrative officer of the town. At the time of his appointment the town manager need not be a resident of the town of East Hampton, but within one year of the commencement of his term as town manager he shall establish and maintain residence in the town. The Town Council shall perform a performance evaluation of the Town Manager annually by December 31st.
CHAPTER IV. TOWN MEETING

Section 4.1.

The town meeting shall have the power to adopt the annual budget and shall approve the issuance of all bonds and notes. Any additional appropriations made during the fiscal year, to a board, commission, department or agency in excess of an amount specified by town ordinance shall be approved by the town meeting. Any ordinance or resolution authorizing the purchase or sale of any interest in real estate shall be acted upon by the town meeting, after approval by the Board of Finance. The power to enact and amend zoning regulations shall continue to be exercised by the planning & zoning commission and the power to enact subdivision regulations shall continue to be exercised by the town planning & zoning commission, all in accordance with the General Statutes or as they may be amended, subject to change made by ordinance enacted pursuant to the provisions of the General Statutes governing planning & zoning.

Commissioner Engel questioned whether the portion concerning planning & zoning needed to be included in the Charter.  Town Attorney D’Aquila will check on this issue.

Director of Public Works’ Keith Hayden requested a threshold of $20,000 for projects going to a town meeting.  The Commission agreed to $15,000 for any purchases or sale of any interest in real estate be approved by the Town Council and above this amount shall be voted at a town meeting.

A discussion ensued over the terminology ‘recommend’ and ‘review’ by the Board of Finance.   The entire Charter must be reviewed for consistency.

Town Attorney D’Aquila confirmed that the Charter Revision Commission felt that the Board of Finance was a “pass through” and that the final authority remains with the Town Council.

Commissioner Engel wanted to reiterate that the Charter Revision Commission was not trying to take away the public’s voice on this issue, but to allow the Director of Public Works to perform his job.  

Language provided by Attorney D’Aquila:

CHAPTER IV. TOWN MEETING

Section 4.1.

The town meeting shall have the power to adopt the annual budget and shall approve the issuance of all bonds and notes.approve the issuance of all bonds and notes.  The town meeting shall have the power to adopt the annual budget at a budget referendum to be scheduled by the Town Council for the first Tuesday in May.  If necessary, subsequent referenda shall be scheduled by the Town Council until a budget is approved. Any additional appropriations made during the fiscal year, to a board, commission, department or agency in excess of an amount specified by town ordinance shall be approved by the town meeting. Any ordinance or resolution authorizing the purchase or sale of any interest in real estate for more than fifteen thousand dollars shall be acted upon by the town meeting, after approval consideration by the Board of Finance and approval by the Town Council. The power to enact and amend zoning regulations shall continue to be exercised by the zoning commission and the power to enact subdivision regulations shall continue to be exercised by the town plan commission, all in accordance with the General Statutes or as they may be amended, subject to change made by ordinance enacted pursuant to the provisions of the General Statutes governing zoning and planning. Purchase or sale of any interest in real estate for fifteen thousand dollars or less may be approved by the Town Council following consideration by the Board of Finance.

Pursuant to Section 7-6 of the General Statutes, as amended, the following individuals are eligible to vote in any town meeting:  any person who is an elector of the Town of East Hampton and any United States citizen who is at least eighteen years of age who, jointly or severally, is liable to the Town of East Hampton for taxes assessed against him on an assessment of one thousand dollars or more on the last completed grand list of the Town of East Hampton, or who would be so liable if not entitled to an exemption as outlined in Section 7-6 of the General Statutes.

Section 4.2. Petition for overrule of action of the Town Council.

Ordinances adopted by the council, except emergency ordinances adopted in accordance with the provisions of Chapter II, Section 2.5 of this charter, shall be subject to overrule by a special town meeting as follows: If within 20 days after publication of any such ordinance, a petition conforming to the requirements of Section 7-9 of the General Statutes, as amended and signed by not less than 10% of the voters qualified eligible to vote in a town meeting, as such eligibility is defined in Section 4.1 of this Charter, is filed with the town clerk requesting its reference to a special town meeting, the effective date of such ordinance shall be suspended and the council shall fix the time and place of such meeting, which shall be within 20 days after the filing of the petition, and notice thereof shall be given in the manner provided by law for the calling of a special town meeting. An ordinance so referred shall take effect upon the conclusion of such meeting unless a majority of those voting thereon, shall have voted in favor of overruling
Section 4.3. Petition for enactment of ordinances.

No less than 10% of the voters qualified eligible to vote in a town meeting, as such eligibility is defined in Section 4.1 of this Charter, may at any time petition over their personal signatures for the enactment of any proposed lawful ordinance by filing such petition, including the complete text of such ordinance, with the town clerk. The council shall call a special town meeting, to be held within 30 days from the date of filing, unless prior to such meeting such ordinance shall be enacted by the council. The call for such meeting shall state the proposed ordinance in full and shall provide for a "yes" or "no" vote as to its enactment. If a majority of the persons entitled to vote, voting at such meeting, shall vote "yes" then such ordinance shall take effect on the tenth day thereafter without further action of the council. Any such proposed ordinance shall be examined by the town attorney before being submitted to the special town meeting. The town attorney is authorized to correct the form of the ordinance for the purpose of avoiding repetitions, illegalities, and unconstitutional provisions, and to assure accuracy in its text and references and clearness and preciseness in its phraseology, but not materially changing its meaning and effect.

Section 4.4. Referendum.

Any item, or items on the call of any town meeting, including items resulting from petitions filed pursuant to Chapter IV, or Section 4.2 or 4.3 of this charter, shall be subject to vote by ballot or voting machine pursuant to the provisions of General Statutes Section 7-7, as amended. Any such items may also be submitted to a vote by ballot or voting machine in accordance with Section 7-7, as amended, by vote of the council.

Section 5.2. General powers and duties.

Upon receipt and consideration of the town council's policy statement concerning the proposed annual budget, the Board of Finance shall hold one or more public hearings on the proposed annual budget and shall with the advice of the town manager, not later than April 15 in each year, present to the council a complete proposed annual budget for the ensuing fiscal year. The council may make any alterations or reductions in the proposed annual budget that they deem necessary, except for increasing the total proposed annual budget and shall submit same to a budget referendum the town meeting for approval. If the town council disagrees with the total proposed annual budget, the council may reject same and return said proposed annual budget to the Board of Finance for further consideration. After further consideration, the Board of Finance shall submit the final proposed annual budget to the council and the council shall submit same to a budget referendum the town meeting for approval. Upon the establishment of the annual town budget by a budget referendum the town meeting, the Board of Finance shall fix the tax rate in mills which shall be levied upon the taxable property in the town on the grand list of the previous October 1. The Board of Finance shall review consider and make recommendations, either for or against, regarding all requests for additional appropriations to be submitted to the council.

By consensus, the members of the Charter Revision Commission agreed with the wording.

Any Other Business to Properly Come Before the Commission
An email from the Town Clerk of Wethersfield referenced proposed legislation to allow the use of the town’s website in order to post legal notices.  Town Clerk Wieleba provided it so that the Charter Revision Commission could review this issue while the Charter was being reviewed.

The next agenda will include:

o       Chapter IV.  Town Meeting Section 4.1.
o       Section 4.2 Petition for Overrule of Action of the Town Council.
o       Section 4.3. Petition for Enactment of Ordinances.
o       Section 4.4. Referendum.
o       Review of all proposed language by the Town Attorney.
o       Section 6.2. Transitional Offices.
o       Section 6.4 Vacancies in Elective Offices.
o       Comments made by the public at the March 1st Public Hearing.
o       The Board of Finance will be invited in order to obtain their comments and suggestions.

Chairperson Concannon wished to review the comments and suggestions made at the March 1st public hearing.

The Charter Revision Commission as a whole wanted to have clear language in the Charter that budget referendums will occur until a budget passes.  The Charter will also include the date when the first vote on the budget will occur for each year.  Town Attorney D’Aquila did not want to add language restricting a specific timeframe as to each successive budget goes to a vote.

The Town Manager reviewed suggestions by the Town Attorney pertaining to Sections 4.1, 4.2, and 4.3.  The method used to determine individuals eligible to vote in a town meeting will be an internal procedure between the Town Clerk’s Office, the Registrar of Voters and the Assessor’s Office.  

Public Comment

Laurie Wasilewski, Hog Hill Road, thanked the Commission for allowing the public’s input.  She felt that the amount of $15,000 was too high under section 4.1.

Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned until the next regular meeting of March 25th at 9:00 a.m. at the Town Hall in the Eaton Smith Meeting Room.

The meeting adjournment:  Motion by Commissioner Engel and seconded by Vice Chairperson Ciucias to adjourn at 9:45 p.m.


                                                Respectfully Submitted


                                                Sandra M. Wieleba