Charter Revision Hearing May 14, 2012
I would urge the Board of Selectmen to reject the revisions to the Town Charter. Although the Charter Revision Commission had many meetings they did not provide the Town a robust Charter for the future.
The office of First Selectman has been delegated into a political position with all the authority of governance delegated to the appointed pseudo – Town Manager, in the position of Director of Administrative Services with an elected First Selectman as a figurehead with veto power on all actions with a six figure salary. This leads to a dysfunctional government with a loose chain of command. Not only was the Town Manager issue voted down but the mechanism for a referendum to bring this issue to a town initiative was dismissed, leaving the town residents without say in their form of government. Our largest taxpayer, the Hartford Insurance company will be sold leaving Simsbury taxpayers with a greatly reduced Grand List. Simsbury needs professional management to provide the taxpayers guidance and budgets that are based on need not on political expediency.
Presently the Culture, Parks and Recreation Commission has the authority to hire and remove the Director of Culture, Parks and Recreation. This gives too much authority to a politically appointed Commission and reduces the authority of the Director of Human Resources.
The Design Review Board was appointed with many professional members to guide the land use commissions into appropriate use and design of land and buildings. The Design Review Board has served the town with many professional additions to planning for the future land use. This Board has now become a political football with the Zoning Commission deciding who is appointed to the board and taking control of their referrals. The Design Review Board serves the town well, giving their professional referrals to the planning and zoning commissions and should be maintained in its present capacity. As stated in the Charter it dilutes the performance of the board and have political overtones that should be eliminated in land use design.
The Charter as presented has become a political document and is not serving the Simsbury residents with the ability to have a public initiative to have their voices heard. Many of the changes are detrimental to public policy, reducing the authority of the elected First Selectman and giving boards and commission too much authority. There are many serious flaws in the document and should be rejected. The taxpayers should not vote on a Charter that is flawed. This Board is the gatekeeper and should reject this document.