Residents took to the Harriet North Room Monday night to air their support and concerns regarding different parts of the Charter Revision Commissions suggested changes.
Primary issues discussed were the addition of a town manager, the changing of voting districts from ten to three and the extension of mayoral, city council and board of education terms from two years to four.
Many residents thanked the commission for the work they put into their recommended changes to the charter and said the revision was a long time coming.
Kathy Granfield, who said she was related to Charter Revision Commission Ed Granfield, said she has read through the suggestions and supports the idea of a city manager. She added that she thinks it is crucial the city does a good job educating the public on the changes outlined before they go to vote on in November.
“This is one of the most important decisions we are going to make as a town,” said Granfield.
Other citizens voiced their concern that the city manager position could become politicized. The manager, who would be required to hold a master’s degree with a concentration in public administration, public affairs, public policy or business administration and have five years of municipal management experience, would need to be approved by a majority vote on the city council.
The mayor would become a part-time city employee who would have a voting seat on the City Council and still hold the power to appoint. Some citizens who spoke found issue with the mayor serving as more of a figurehead and public relations person. They said they wanted the top seat in the city to be directly “accountable to the people.”
City Council Chairman Ronald Quagliani said the council cannot make changes to the charter, only recommendations to the commission. This Wednesday and Thursday the council will be reviewing the revised charter in meetings open to the public – but with no public comment.
Quagliani said the council will need to make their recommendations and have the commission chose whether or not to implement them. He said the commission will then send their final revision to the council for a vote. If passed, the city will send the document to the Connecticut Secretary of State for review and clearance.
In order for the changes, which can be voted on piecemeal, to be on the ballot in November, the city must send the charter revision recommendations to the state by Sept. 5.