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550 Signature Petition Delivered, Will Be Denied Tonight

Town Council has called a special meeting to revisit Mayoral veto resolution

 

A 550 signature to “overturn the budget” was delivered to the town clerk Monday in an effort to “take the budget to a town meeting.” 

But organizers said that despite the effort, it will be “denied.” 

“Denied …due to a new ruling by the town attorney,” according to petition supporter James Andriote Sr., chairman of Independence for Montville Party. “And an error made by the Town Council chairperson about the procedure following the mayor’s veto.”

Indeed, a special Town Council meeting has been called for tonight at 6 p.m. to specifically amend one resolution – the veto vote of several weeks ago – and put in its place a substitute resolution that puts the slashed $29,079 land use assistant post back in the budget and cuts other line items including $25,000 for police weapons and ammunition.   

Now, according to procedures under the town charter, the “changes that (supporters of the petition and others) that were to be recommended at the town meeting have been voided,” Andriote said. 

“We must again seek signatures to petition the budget unless the council approved our recommendations…obtained through numerous members of the Republican Town Committee, the Independence for Montville Party and various taxpayers,” he wrote in a press release Monday. 

The reason petitioners may need to go back to square one is that currently the budget resolution is suspended; since the council didn’t vote to overturn the mayoral line item veto on the planner job, it needs to revisit that line item and when it does that tonight, the council could call that action a sufficient change in the budget which would negate the need for a town meeting. Hence Andriote’s statement about the necessity to start the petition process all over again. 

Some of the suggested cuts by the Republican Town Committee and others, according to Andriote included $15,000 in police overtime, $75,000 from the department of public works for items like sand, $138,000 from the capital plan and myriad other cuts totaling some $527,000. In addition to the cuts, they wanted to see $166,000 added back in to the education budget to prevent the layoffs.

Two weeks ago Town Attorney Eileen Duggan advised the council that citizens were not permitted to petition the mill rate. On June 5, the council  

Kyle June 26, 2012 at 11:58 AM
The erogence of this council to do what they want despite what the citizens who elected them want makes me sick. Let's see what they town attorney had to say about a recall. The people will not stand for this hitler style leadership.
montvillejive June 26, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Hate to say, but since the Mayor put into his budget the police weapons, he could also veto that reduction. Which to me means that the budget will have to once again go back to the Council and again any second petition will be voided. At this rate, this game could be played for a long long time and blocking any attempt at a petition for the budget. Is there any other towns that block their citizen's right to petition like this in the State?
Concerned June 26, 2012 at 12:36 PM
Let's not forget about the cut to the Administative Assistants Position in the Parks and Recreation Office (approved by the Town Council). When are we going to re- think about reinstating that one? That cut will go from forty hours to twenty. What a shame after unions negociated in good faith. No increases/no layoffs.
J. Arrington June 26, 2012 at 01:03 PM
Concerned, I agree that the unions negotiated in good faith. I find it odd that the P&R position was not funded. In the article, it says that about $77,000 can be cut from the Public Works department for sand. There must be money left in that section of PW to make that suggestion. Obviously, the finance committee and the mayor missed that one.
Tony June 26, 2012 at 01:29 PM
I was told in addition to the cuts these citizens also want to add in around $160k to the board of Ed. It appears the ECS grant went up by that much and the mayor is keeping that money for other uses while we are firing teaches. I say restore that money make these other cuts and move on. If not lets replace this council before they ruin our town.
Matthew Lariviere June 26, 2012 at 01:51 PM
A balanced budget in any form, whether be Feds (a laugh), State (laughing still), town or citizens personal, needs to happen in these lean and tough times. However, cutting the teachers is absolutely a no no! Unfortunately, cuts are necessary, but educating our future can't have cuts. Also, between the Mayor and Town Coucil, a real achievable growth for our town needs to be planned and implimented. They need to look at what kind of industry has left the area, for what reasons, and what could be brought back that would pay decent wages to the residents. And saying that we, as town citizens can't file a petition? Umm, okay don't think we will vote anyone back into the Town Council or Mayor from this group of individuals! Just a thought!
Tiiu June 26, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Other area towns routinely have referendums on their budgets, e.g., East Lyme and Stonington. Why are Montville residents not allowed the same privilege?
Sam Rogers June 26, 2012 at 06:45 PM
It's interesting that so many commenters are convinced of the utter wisdom of their own positions, while evidently having no idea of the controlling laws. The rules are simply different in other towns, because those other towns chose to enact different charter provisions, or have other forms of government altogether. It's certainly anyone's privilege to be unhappy with Montville's charter, but a majority of voters enacted it, and in a democracy the majority rules.
Sam Rogers June 26, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Told by whom? Even assuming you're correct, doing otherwise would amount to a permanent tax increase. That's because the state mandates that towns spend no less on education than they do each previous year. If $160K more ECS money materialized this year, simply adding it to the education budget means you'd have to spend it next year and forever after, whether or not you get a grant. On the other hand, using it to offset money that can be used elsewhere eliminates this problem. Just another unfunded education mandate brought to you by legislators in bed with the teachers' unions ....
Sam Rogers June 26, 2012 at 07:03 PM
It would be hard to know if the unions negaotiated in good faith unless one was a party to the negotiations. Nevertheless, it could be argued that it would have been cheaper to cut positions and thus also save benefits, even if you had to give up some of that savings in the form of raises to other union members as the price of a new contract. If you assume that a given bargaining unit has, say,8 or 10 members, eliminated the job of just one at a salary of (say) $30,000 would probably save another $30,000 in insurance benefits and retirement contributions. Even if half of that were handed out to the others in the bargaining unit in the form of raises over the life of the contract, the taxpayers would still win.
J. Arrington June 26, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Mr. Rogers, you make a apt point with your discussion. However, I merely equated a contractual agreement which was passed by the Council and negotiated by the Mayor and Union officials as completed in good faith. One does not have to be party to the negotiations to make that simply analysis.
J. Arrington June 26, 2012 at 08:30 PM
And Mr. Rogers, democracy also means that citizens have the right to petition their government. A resolution was passed by the town's legislative body and the charter allows all citizens the right to petition the resolution to a town meeting.
Pete J June 28, 2012 at 01:29 AM
Not enough signatures to go forward. Dead issue!!!!
Pete J June 28, 2012 at 01:41 AM
I don't think they missed anything. We really did not have a winter last year. So if the town cuts the sand and salt budget and we get slammed this winter and the PW director comes before the town council and asks for more money you can only imagine what would be said about the mayor and the town council they are in a no win situation.

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