League of Women Voters, Charter Revision Commission Hold Info Session at Town Hall

The most widely discussed suggested change to New Canaan’s major governing document that voters will face on Election Day came as a result of careful study of several neighbors and deliberate consideration of the town’s municipal structure, officials said Tuesday night. In recommending that New Canaan remove the first selectman from the role of chairing the Board of Finance, the volunteer panel charged with studying the Town Charter looked around and found that the funding body was elected, rather than appointed, in nearby towns, members of the Charter Revision Commission said during a League of Women Voters of New Canaan information session. “And so what we tried to do was find the best check and balance for the system that we have,” commissioner Kate Hurlock said during the session, held at Town Hall. “Because for all of the interviews that we did, it was overwhelmingly clear that the people that we spoke to wanted to keep the Board of Finance appointed and for reasons of the complexity of our budget and the size of our town and the talent in our town, it made sense to preserve that. So preserving that, how could we ensure a check and balance in that environment?

Letter: Background on Charter Revision Question #3

As part of the team which researched this issue for the Charter Revision Commission (CRC), I thought some background might be helpful. The chairmanship of the Board of Finance (BOF) has been discussed for decades and was highlighted by many during the CRC’s 90-plus interviews. Those supporting election, expressed this achieved a more equitable balance of power and responsiveness to the community. In canvassing similar Connecticut towns, including Avon, Darien, Fairfield, Madison, Ridgefield, Simsbury, Westport and Wilton, all maintain an elected BOF, with the Chair elected from the respective membership. In fact, a majority of towns in Connecticut have an elected BOF.

Charter Revision: Panel Questions Role of First Selectman on Finance Board

A panel charged with studying New Canaan’s governing document is weighing whether to recommend a change that could see some duties removed from the town’s highest elected official with respect to one of its major funding bodies. New Canaan is unique in that members of its Board of Finance are appointed by a group led by the first selectman, who then serves as chairman of that same finance board and, as an ex-officio member, casts tie-breaking votes (and no others), as per the Town Charter. Though no problem has emerged or is expected to develop now, with First Selectman Rob Mallozzi in place, it may pose a problem of “down the road,” Kate Hurlock, a member of the Charter Revision Commission, said at the group’s regular meeting. “It is not an issue now, it’s down the road creating checks and balances so that if there is an appointed board, that there is then a balance on the other side,” Hurlock said during the meeting, held at Town Hall. “If the first selectman is appointing the board then there is a balance on the other side in terms of setting the agenda and voting.”

Members of the commission are charged with studying the Town Charter, with an eye on recommending updates for a town-wide vote on Election Day.

Meet the New Canaan Charter Revision Commission


Members of a newly formed commission charged with studying the governing document of New Canaan—with an eye on recommending updates for a town-wide vote on Election Day 2016—on Wednesday voted a former delegate to the state legislature as their chairman. John Hetherington of Valley Road will serve as chairman of the Charter Revision Commission, following a unanimous vote at the group’s first meeting, held at Town Hall. See the gallery above for some background on each of the commission’s 10 members, as they introduced themselves in turn at the meeting. After commissioners been sworn in by Town Clerk Claudia Weber, Town Council Vice Chair addressed the group. Asked during an interview after the meeting about the importance of the task before them, Karl said: “The importance is that these folks who know New Canaan like the back of their hand are going to look at the Charter, the DNA of the town, and review anything that should be changed or revised, and it hasn’t been done in 10 years.”

Commissioners agreed to set a schedule whereby they would meet twice per month with an eye on getting a draft proposal to the Town Council next April.

Did You Hear … ?

It’s Spirit Week at New Canaan High School, and Tuesday was “Costume Day.” The photos above were snapped at ABC House of New Canaan Tuesday morning (thanks, John). ABC House is set to hold its 42 annual fundraiser at the Country Club of New Canaan. The gala will include a live auction and raffle, and will be attended by ABC scholars, their families and host families. Here’s more information on the event and how to get tickets. ***

Boston, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Tulsa, Detroit … New Canaan.