Town of East Hampton, CT
20 East High Street, East Hampton, CT 06424
3/25/2010 Meeting Minutes
Unapproved
Charter Revision Commission
Regular Meeting
March 25, 2010

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

Also Present:  Town Manager Jeffrey O’Keefe, Town Attorney Jean D’Aquila, Board of Finance member Thomas O’Brien,  and Town Clerk Sandi Wieleba

Absent:  Commissioner Tuttle and Vice Chairperson Ciucias

Meeting Called to Order

The regular meeting of the Charter Revision Commission was called to order at 9:00 a.m.  

Approval of the Minutes of March 18, 2010

Motion:    Commissioner Engel made a motion to approve the minutes of March 18, 2010, seconded by Commissioner Balthazar.

All members voted in the affirmative.  Motion passed 3 - 0.

Motion:  Commissioner Engel moved to rescind the vote seconded by Commissioner Balthazar.

All members voted in the affirmative to rescind the motion.  Motion passed 3 – 0.

All members voted in the affirmative to approve the minutes, as amended.   Motion passed 3 – 0.

Public Remarks

No one was in attendance.

Chairperson Concannon received two emails:

Matthew Walton, 19 Sherry Drive, stated in his email that he had received an invitation to attend this meeting, but he was unable to attend.

Kurt Comisky, 62 Wopowog Road, stated in his email:  
  • He felt the simple issue was between the budget process envisioned in the current Charter and the budget process in practice today.
  • He felt if the Charter removed the ability of the Board of Finance to “recommend” an item to go to the Town Council for approval the Board of Finance would lose the power to control the annual budget process.
Town Attorney D’Aquila explained that the Board of Finance felt that if it did not have the final control of supplemental appropriations, it would undermine the purpose of the Board of Finance.  She further stated that it did not necessarily undermine their role, but was a policy decision that the Charter Revision Commission needed to undertake, if it chose.

Commissioner Engel felt this recommendation was taking the power from the Town Council and giving it to the Board of Finance which it never had. She did not support this recommendation.   

Town Attorney D’Aquila supported removing the word “recommend” and replace it with “review” as it pertained to the Board of Finance.

Chairperson Concannon closed the Public Remarks portion of the meeting.

Review Draft Language Approved at March 18th Meeting

Section 2.1 Election.

The Charter Revision Commission reviewed the proposed language provided by the Town Attorney.  

Commissioner Engel asked why the phrase “and except as allowed by State Statute” was omitted from the text as was agreed at the last meeting.  Town Attorney D’Aquila explained that this might be such a large exception as to render pointless the intent of the general prohibition.  She suggested being very specific as to what type of a board a Town Council member can serve on.  It was later determined that the term agency should be added to the text in Section 2.1.

The term Charter Revision Commission was added to the text because State Statute allowed for a member of the Town Council to serve on it.  Commissioner Engel used the scenario that if a petition was presented forcing a Charter Revision Commission to review the Charter, it was important to have a member(s) of the Town Council on this commission in order to represent the Town Council’s interest.  

Town Attorney D’Aquila explained Section 2.1 contained:
  • The types of commissions a Town Council member can serve on during their term of office.
  • Language approved by the Secretary of the State’s Office concerning the election and composition of the Town Council with the inclusion of a four-year and two-year term of office.  
  • The Secretary of the State’s Office feels that when there are different terms, it represents different offices.  Candidates could run for a four-year term and/or for a two-year term.  This would only apply for the 2011 election.  In the year 2013 only candidates running for the two-year term would come up for election and the candidates running for the four-year term would come up in 2015.
  • She explained that the terms of this draft reflected restrictive voting.  This means only three candidates can run for the four-year term as opposed to four candidates and two candidates can run for the two-year term as opposed to three candidates.  Full voting would allow the elector to vote for seven candidates – four for the four-year term and three for the two-year term.  This language can be changed if the Charter Revision Commission wishes to have full voting.  
Chairperson Concannon wanted to have full voting as opposed to restrictive voting.  She mentioned members of the public had requested this in the past.  The use of restrictive voting is in place now.   This would allow running seven candidates from each political party.  Minority representation as outlined in State Statute would still apply.

Commissioner Engel was concerned if there was a benefit to restrictive voting.  None was identified.  She mentioned that the town had allowed full voting and that it was changed to restrictive voting many years ago and she was unclear as to why.   She felt that political parties that have more members enrolled in their party would be able to run more candidates.  She indicated that she did support full voting.  

Town Attorney D’Aquila will have the Secretary of the State’s Office review revised language for full voting.  She suggested the wording could be:

“An elector may vote for four candidates running for a four-year term and three candidates running for a three year term”.

She read from State Statute §9-414. “Nominations not to exceed places to be filled; municipal primaries. No town committee, caucus or convention shall endorse and certify to the clerk of a municipality, and no primary shall choose, more candidates for nomination to municipal office or more persons as members of a town committee than an elector may vote for in each such case”.  

Motion:  Commissioner Engel moved to adopt the language in Section 2.1, as presented by Attorney D’Aquila, with the changes making this full voting and with the additional change of he/she where appropriate, seconded by Commissioner Balthazar.

All members voted in the affirmative.  Motion passed 3 – 0.

Chairperson Concannon mentioned that some charters included the minority representation language from State Statute §9-167a.  She asked if it would make sense to add this language.  

Attorney D’Aquila felt it would be redundant unless for some reason this section was amended by the legislature.  This law trumps anything in the Charter.

CHAPTER II. THE TOWN COUNCIL
Section 2.1. Election.
The Town Council hereinafter referred to as the "council", shall consist of seven members who shall serve without compensation. Not more than five of the members shall be of the same political party. At the biennial election in 2011, four candidates 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 four candidates running for a four-year term and three candidates running for a three year term. 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.   No member shall hold any position of profit under the government of the Town of East Hampton during the term of office for which he/she is elected, and for two years thereafter.  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, agencies and task forces appointed by the council and a Charter Revision Commission.
Section 2.2. Chair/Vice-Chair.
Commissioner Engel felt that the former Town Council’s term ended on the night of the election and that the Chief Executive Officer would be charge until the new Town Council was sworn in.    She requested specific language stating that the new Town Council was in charge following the election.  She did not support changing the organization meeting date to the next regular meeting if there was any question as to who would be in charge of the town until the organizational meeting.

The reason for holding the meeting later is in case there was a recount or a discrepancy or tie vote.  According to State Statute the Town Clerk’s Office has six days in which to perform a recount of the ballots cast for any office where there is a discrepancy or close/tie vote.  

It was suggested that the organizational meeting would remain the following night after the election, except in the event of a recount or tie vote, then the Chief Executive Officer would be in charge.

Commissioner Engel stated that she would not support the draft changes in which the organizational meeting would be held at the next Town Council meeting.  She indicated that the meeting should be held the night after the election pending a problem.

It was suggested that the Town Attorney would review this section to see which Town Council would be in charge of the town following the election and prior to the organizational meeting.  She indicated that she did not support swearing in the new Town Council prior to a recount.  
This section has not been updated pending the information requested by the Town Attorney.

Section 2.2. Chair/Vice-Chair.

The council shall hold an organizational meeting at the next regular Town Council meeting following the regular biennial town election in November, 2011, and biennially thereafter, for the purpose of choosing one of its members to be chair, but this office shall not deprive the chair of his/her vote on any question. 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/her office as may be imposed by the council. 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 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

Chairperson Concannon suggested substituting the word “perform” with “conduct” in the last sentence.
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. The Town Council shall perform conduct a performance evaluation of the Town Manager annually by December 31st.

Chapter IV Town Meeting – Section 4.1

The changes in this section only apply to real estate.  The intent was for public easements by the Public Works’ department.  It was suggested that all other purchases would have to go to a public meeting.  

Town Attorney D’Aquila wanted the town to have the ability to get the fee interest and mentioned that in some cases, the town might need to own the piece of property as opposed to obtaining only an easement.  She asked if adding ‘Public Works’ projects would include water and sewer projects.  

It was suggested adding the words ‘for Public Works’ projects only in the last sentence.

Attorney D’Aquila wanted to make it clear that for non-public works’ project, for $15,000 or less it still went through the normal process.  Revised language was incorporated into this section reflecting the Town Attorney’s recommendations.
CHAPTER IV. TOWN MEETING
Section 4.1.
The town meeting shall 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 consideration review by the Board of Finance and approval by the Town Council. However, purchase or sale of any interest in real estate for Public Works’ projects only and for fifteen thousand dollars or less may be approved by the Town Council following consideration  review by the Board of Finance.

Motion:  Commissioner Engel moved that Section 4.1. including the changes previously suggested and the changes agreed upon at this meeting by the Town Attorney be adopted, seconded by Commissioner Balthazar.

All members voted in the affirmative.  Motion passed 3 – 0.

This is a new section added to the Charter identifying who is eligible to vote in any town meeting.  

Section 4.2.  Who can vote at a town meeting.

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.

Motion:  Commissioner Engel moved to adopted Section 4.2. Who can vote at a town meeting, as presented at this meeting, seconded by Commissioner Balthazar.  

All members voted in the affirmative.  Motion passed 3 – 0.
Section 4.2.  4.3 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 eligible to vote in a town meeting, as such eligibility is defined in Section 4.1  4.2 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. 4.4  Petition for enactment of ordinances.
No less than 10% of the voters eligible to vote in a town meeting, as such eligibility is defined in Section 4.1 4.2 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.

Motion:  Commissioner Balthazar moved to adopt the changes in Section 4.3.  Petition for overrule of action of the Town Council and 4.4. Petition for enactment of ordinances so that it refers back to Section 4.2. Who is eligible to vote in town meetings as well as the new numbering, seconded by Commissioner Engel.
All members voted in the affirmative.  Motion passed 3 – 0.
Section 4.4. 4.5 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 or 4.4 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.

Motion:  Commissioner Engel moved to adopt the change in Section 4.4 Referendum which is now Section 4.5 Referendum and the changes in 4.5 Referendum to refer back to Section 4.3 Petition for overrule of action of the Town Council or 4.4. Petition for enactment of ordinances, and the changes recommended at this meeting, seconded by Commissioner Balthazar.
All members voted in the affirmative.  Motion passed 3 – 0.

Section 5.2 – General powers and duties.
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 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 for approval. Upon the establishment of the annual town budget by a budget referendum, 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 consider and make recommendations, either for or against, regarding all requests for additional appropriations to be submitted to the council

Motion:  Commissioner Balthazar moved to adopt the language as proposed by the Town Attorney for Section 5.2 General powers and duties, seconded by Commissioner Engel.

All members voted in the affirmative.  Motion passed 3 – 0.
Section 6.2. Transitional offices.
Persons elected to the positions of town clerk and tax collector, which hereafter shall be called collector of revenue, shall continue in office until the expiration of his or their term whereupon he or they shall be appointed for an indefinite period. When these offices become vacant, they shall be filled by appointment as prescribed in Section 3.3. The person elected to the position of town treasurer shall continue in office until the position of director of finance is filled by appointment, at which time the duties of treasurer shall be assumed by the director of finance as provided for in Section 3.3. and the position of treasurer abolished.

Motion:  Commissioner Balthazar moved to delete Section 6.2 Transitional Offices and move all the other sections up accordingly, seconded by Commissioner Engel.  

All members voted in the affirmative.  Motion passed 3 – 0.

Section 6.3. Other  6.2 Town officers.
Except as otherwise specifically provided by this charter the Town of East Hampton shall have such other town officers, departments, boards, commissions and agencies as now exist and as are provided by the General Statutes. Special Acts or as provided by any ordinance adopted pursuant to law. All such officers, departments, boards, commissions and agencies, including the Board of Finance, shall be elected or appointed in the manner provided by General Statutes or by Special Act or by this charter or as provided by ordinances adopted pursuant to law, and shall continue to have such powers, duties, privileges and functions as are or may in the future be conferred on them by the General Statutes, Special Acts, this charter, ordinances or regulations adopted pursuant to law, or amendments thereto.
Section 6.4.  6.3 Vacancies in elective offices.
Whenever a vacancy in an elective office occurs, the council or other appointing authority so designated by law, shall fill the vacancy by appointment for the unexpired portion of the term. When a person vacating an office shall have been elected as a member of a political party such vacancy shall be filled by the appointment of a member of the same political party for the unexpired portion of the term.


Section 6.4  Planning & Zoning Commission

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 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.

Section 6.5. Saving clause.
If any section or part of any section of this charter shall be held invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, such holding shall not affect the remainder of this charter nor the context in which said section or part thereof so held invalid may appear, except to the extent that an entire section or part of a section may be inseparably connected in meaning and effect with the section or part of a section to which such holding shall directly apply.
Section 6.6. Amendment of charter.
This charter may be amended in the manner prescribed by law.  The Town Council shall review this Charter from time to time as it deems such review to be in the best interest of the Town, but at least every ten years.  Said review to be filed with the Town Clerk.  Amendments to this Charter shall be in accordance with C.G.S. Chapter 99, as the same may be from time to time amended.

Section 6.7. Effective date.
This amended charter shall become effective immediately upon ratification by the electors of the town on November 2, 1010 in the manner prescribed by section 7-191 of the general statutes. for an election of a town council and the Board of Finance as provided for herein, at the regular town election of November 7, 1989, provided it is approved by the electors of the town at the regular election on November 3, 1987. If the charter is so approved, all other provisions of this charter shall be effective on the day after the regular town election of November 3, 1987, except that it shall be effective to confer upon the town the powers granted by Section 7-194 of the General Statutes or as it may be amended, on November 3, 1987.


Review Comments from March 1st Public Hearing

The Commission felt that it addressed all the issues raised at the March 1st Public Hearing.  The only issue was the one raised by Mr. Dostaler concerning the removal of an elected official.

Commissioner Engel asked if someone could be removed through a petition.  Attorney D’Aquila was not sure if the State of Connecticut had a recall process in place for removing an elected official.  She will check into this issue for the next meeting.  She felt that if an individual was convicted of a felon, the State Statutes addressed this issue.  She felt that this issue could be addressed in the Charter if the Charter Revision Commission so desired.

Any other business to properly come before the Commission
None.

Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned until the next regular meeting of April 1st  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 Commissioner Balthazar to adjourn at 11:00 a.m.


                                                Respectfully Submitted


                                                Sandra M. Wieleba, Town Clerk