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Budget Vote Questioned; Second Petition Drive Uncertain

Town Attorney opinion on budget definition sought

 

Some residents, including at least one town official, have questioned if the Town Council vote of Tuesday is valid. The issue is whether the earlier this month that held it was a conflict for a town councilor employed by the board of education to vote on the budget. If yes, it could mean the 4-0 vote Tuesday to bless a budget resolution that restored a job and cut police weapons was not legitimate.

A – and put in its place a substitute resolution that returned the $29,079 land use assistant position back in the budget and cut other line items including $25,000 for police weapons and ammunition.  

Only four councilors were in attendance – Gary Murphy, Billy Caron, Laura Tanner and Chuck Loughton.

Tanner is the councilor on question that works for the school district as a paraprofessional. Duggan said she could not vote on the education budget. Some have questioned whether that means the Town of Montville fiscal year 2012-2013 budget, given the education budget, like the capital spending plan and general government budget all fall within the overall town budget.

Mayor Ronald McDaniel said “his understanding” from Town Attorney Eileen Duggan is it’s just the education budget she cannot vote on.

"That's the way it was explained to me," McDaniel said. 

Duggan did not return a Montville Patch call for clarification on the opinion.

In the meantime, there’s no formal word on whether Republicans and members of the so-called Independence for Montville Party will pursue another petition go-round seeking to “overrule” the 2012-2013 $55.6 million budget after the 550-signature, 23-page petition filed Monday was not validated since it was short 14 verifiable signatures.  But according to Andriote and McFee, they were told the petition would not have been accepted in any event. McFee said Duggan told him it would “not be allowed.”

Duggan did not respond to a call for clarification.

According to Town Clerk Lisa J. Terry, 474 signatures are required per the Town Charter and while the document had more than 500 signatures, she could only verify 460. Town Councilor Gary Murphy read Terry’s memo during the councilor’s remarks portion of the Special Meeting Tuesday, moments after the council voted to approve the resolution.

 “Every signature that was rejected had a reason next to the name …reasons why a (name) was rejected ranged from not a voter, not a taxpayer, illegible or signed twice,” she explained in an email to Patch.

 Andriote said, “Everything was done by the book, (Terry) very helpful. She did a great job.”

He laid blame with the Mayor and council chair. But Republican Town Councilor Dana McFee said “at this point, what matters is it failed.”

“We’re not gonna use that same loophole we’re complaining about. We attempted. We failed.”

McFee joined Andriote and others to collect petition signatures at locations including the Transfer Station.

McDaniel said McFee “is within his rights” as a citizen to seek the petition. McFee, who during the June 5 special meeting to adopt the budget, repeatedly urged citizens to create a petition to force it to a town-wide vote, voted in favor of the budget.  

Mr. P June 29, 2012 at 03:21 PM
The jury is in. Once again the town lawyer has changed her mind and states the vote was illeagle as Miss Tanner should not have voted on budget. This is why she should not be on the council to many conflicts of intrest. Costing us all money each time the attorney has to review her actions. Do what's right for montville and step down Miss Tanner.
Sarah Mae Wegins June 29, 2012 at 05:45 PM
One of the things I was constantly told during the last election was because of McDaniel's education he was in the best position to lead the Town as Mayor. Yet being unable to understand the Town Attorney's ruling of May 23, 2012 simply mystifies me. FYI Mayor McDaniel, voting for the entire budget is also voting for the BOE's budget. One vote fits all. Nice try trying to worm out of responsibility. However, your words speak volumes.
Ellen Hillman June 30, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Hey the resolution to over turn the Mayors veto was placed on the agenda by who else..... the mayor. hummm why would you veto a line item and then make the council overturn it. Was it a clerical error by the chairman of the town council? seems like every meeting I go to there is an error on the agenda. If you cant get that right then how can you do any thing else?
Jill P. June 30, 2012 at 10:54 PM
What a hot mess. It's embarrassing that the mayor and council are spending thousands to keep having the lawyer look over their actions. Stop the stupidity.
Dana McFee July 01, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Some misinformation in this article, I did not vote for this budget I was the lone dissenting vote also we would not try to use the same "loop hole" if we had legitimately failed getting enough signatures (the petition drive ended with the atty's opinion if not for that we would have continued for one more day and would have easily had more than enough)
Ellyn Moran Santiago July 01, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Re: the comments of Town Councilor Dana McFee, I went to the minutes http://www.townofmontville.org/FormRepository/processDownload.asp?ID=4623 of the June 5 Special Meeting to check the vote, and those minutes reflect an affirmative vote. If that's an error, we can certainly double-check. And, in my conversations with Councilor McFee, he did say he and other organizers would have been able to get many more signatures that Monday had he not been told by attorney Duggan that the petition was "not allowed." Apologies if this was misread.
Dana McFee July 01, 2012 at 09:31 PM
hi ellyn, read June 11 reg meeting minutes and it will explain. Im surprised that unapproved minutes are posted at all
a.l. July 02, 2012 at 12:08 AM
wow, almost, but not, 500 signatures out of 20,000 residents. I guess the people have spoken, but "you guys" just can't seem to hear it! The people also spoke last November but again, "you guys" just can't seem to hear that either. We have elected a Mayor that , YES, has the intelligence, education, and maturity to work for and improve our Town, a Town by the way the I am proud to live in despite our problems. Funny how you don't seem to remember that he was quite clear when campaigning that he wouldn't lie and tell us our taxes would not go up! As much as none of us want that , his honesty is a refreshing change! He did NOT raise our taxes with an increased budget, he kept the budget at the same level, the level that the Republican controlled council last year had set! The increase is do to the law suit, a business bankruptcy, and re-evaluation, all of which he has no control over but it sure looks good to blame him for it! Suits people's needs nicely, right? Those of us in Town with common sense will let him do his job with confidence. Those without, continue to be juvenile and sling mud (yea, those are the folks i want running my town!) and even make-up rediculous rumors to discredit. GROW UP! How about "you guys" try giving it a rest for a least a couple of weeks, most of us are tired of your antics and just plain tired of listening to you!

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