New members of the City Council heard about some of the issues that will be at the forefront of the next two years in their first regular meeting Monday night. The council also created an educational and outreach committee concerning the charter revisions.
Issues brought up during public session included the budget, taxes and economic development.
John Galvin, of the Village Improvement Association, said he was looking start a fine working relationship with the council after being “held at arm’s length” by the last council. The Village Improvement Association runs the city’s libraries, and Galvin has been an outspoken proponent of greater library funding in the face of repeated cuts to their budget.
“The library is apolitical,” said Galvin. “We are here to serve the community. There will be some discussion about our funding. I look forward to a very fruitful and open relationship.”
Library funding became a focal point during the budgetary process last year. Dozens of supporters flocked to meetings to speak on the importance of the service the library system provides in West Haven.
Ted Brown of Allingtown discussed the sale of city property in his borough. He claimed the citizens of the area have little input on what development projects are in their area. He referenced the tax abatements granted to Acorn Group developments and said the citizens are shouldering the burden developments were supposed to offset. He also spoke to the ever-contentious Haven project.
“You got a Haven [The Haven mall development] over here,” said Brown. “Malls are obsolete. You’ve got to get to that. They’re obsolete. Everybody is shopping on the internet. If we are going to survive as a city, we better wake up.”
One primary part of the councils work on Monday night was the creation of a Charter Revision Education and Outreach Committee. The committee will be a key part of helping citizens make an informed decision when deciding the fate of the charter revision that was approved last session.
“This committee will be tasked with educating the citizens of West Haven,” said Councilwoman Robbin Hamilton, the chairman of the council’s Charter Revision Committee. “This commission will be charged with establishing, executing, and campaigning to educate the public to the proposed changes and will also be required to submit a report of their work to the city of West Haven council.”
If approved, the charter revisions would bring substantial changes for the city, not the least of which would be the mayor joining the City Council as the leader and thirteenth member of the body. In the mayor’s place, a city manager would act as the chief officer of the city.
Other major changes would see a shrinking of the voting districts from ten to three and the extension of terms from two years to four.
Members of the original Charter Revision Commission had been asked if they would serve on this new committee last session, with some City Council members saying those members would be best at educating the public. It is unclear if any of the former commission will agree to serve on this new public body.