By Josh LaBella
The City Council seemed to come at the charter revision process with a new energy last Wednesday in a special meeting. During the session, they voted to approve some recommendations of their own while shooting down others.
In the current phase of the process, the City Council is reviewing the recommendations made by the Charter Revision Commission. They will vote to approve or amend those recommendations and send them back to the commission.
The commission will conduct a final review of the charter and may or may not implement the council’s suggestions. After that, the revised charter will be sent to the City Council for final approval. If it is approved by the state, a date will be set for a citywide referendum in which the questions concerning the charter will be written up by the council.
The first motion the council passed aimed to give them more control over the wage and benefit package of department leaders. Chairman Ron Quagliani put forth the motion, saying the council would set those things before a candidate was selected for hiring.
On the topic of city manager, the council struggled with the question of whether the person hired for the position should be a city resident. Quagliani originally put in a motion which would require the city manager, police and fire chiefs and superintendent to become a legal resident within one year of hiring.
Third District Councilman Aaron Charney, who has been a vocal opponent of a residency requirement, said he did not want to limit the applicant pool for the position.
Meanwhile, Fourth District Councilman Gallignano said he wants a qualified candidate but believed one who lived in the city would have more “skin in the game.” He added being a resident would make a city manager care more about their success.
After some debate, Quagliani removed his motion.
Another motion the council passed changed the language of the section in which the mayor appoints a board of finance. The recommended change stipulated that the mayor “may” appoint said board but Charney put forth a motion to change the language back to shall. The motion carried unanimously.
Other motions introduced by Charney did not muster the votes to pass. One of those motions looked to continue the status quo of having elections every two years with the Board of Education positions being elected in four-year, staggered terms.
Charney said his reasoning behind the motion was that it gave citizens the ability to “change course.” He went on to cite several examples where incumbent mayors have lost midterm elections.
When that motion failed, Charney introduced a revised one which would continue the trend of council seats being up for election every two years. It also failed.
The councilman said he wanted to form their recommended changes in a better way because many of the new additions of the revised charter proposal are interconnected.
Quagliani said while he understood Charney’s point, he though the most effort should go into formulating the questions that go on the ballot opposed to “dissecting” the document.