‘We Should Embrace Things That Are Unique To New Canaan’: First Selectman Questions Suggested Change out of Charter Revision


In suggesting that the first selectman should no longer serve as chairman of a major funding body in municipal government, the volunteers now studying New Canaan’s main governing document are creating a problem where none has ever existed, the town’s highest elected official said.

New Canaan FIrst Selectman Rob Mallozzi

New Canaan FIrst Selectman Rob Mallozzi

It doesn’t appear that any active members of the Board of Finance favor making a change to the group’s chairmanship, First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said in an interview.

“Certainly it is a unique situation in New Canaan but it is one that absolutely works,” he told NewCanaanite.com. “It is almost like the Charter Revision Commission has sought to create a problem that did not exist.”

“The volunteers that are the active on the Board of Finance are very, very pleased with the present setup of things and have found it extremely workable for them. I believe that they want to get answers as to what was the driving force for Charter Revision Commission to suggest such a change when such a change was not brought to the Charter Revision Commission by members of the Board of Finance.”

The comments follow the Charter Revision Commission’s votes in favor of changes to the role of the first selectman with respect to the finance board. As it is, Chapter 5, Section 3 of the Charter says that the first selectman serve as chairman and an ex-officio member of the Board of Finance, casting only tie-breaking votes. As chairman, the first selectman sets the group’s agenda.

Last week, Charter Revision Commission Chairman Dave Hunt confirmed, the group voted in favor of keeping the Board of Finance an appointed (not elected) body, for its chairman to be elected annually by its members, for the first selectman to continue casting only tie-breaking votes and to serve ex-officio, but not as chairman. At its meeting, some members of the commission said they’re  important changes to make in order to preserve checks and balances in government, considering that the Board of Selectmen itself nominates finance board members. As an ex-officio member, the first selectman would continue to have a seat at the table and in executive session, but would no longer set the group’s agenda as chairman, under the commission’s recommendation, Hunt said.

The group’s recommendations are to be presented to the Town Council and, if supported there, put out to a town-wide vote during November’s general elections. The commission’s job is to get suggestions for changes directly from the heads of municipal departments and volunteer boards and commissions.

Mallozzi said that Hunt would appear before the finance board next month and that the group would like to see documentation that demonstrates the suggested changes to the first selectman’s role on the funding body did, in fact, come from those interviewed.

“The fact that we have 11 volunteers actively engaged in the Board of Finance, many of whom sit on the boards of directors of major corporations and run businesses with dedicated financial professionals, that are extremely happy with the present system should mean a lot and should inform, I think, to a greater degree where the discussion should go,” Mallozzi said.

Though other lower Fairfield County towns handle their own boards of finance differently than New Canaan, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, he sad.

“I think it does make New Canaan unique and sometimes we should embrace things that are unique to New Canaan because in the end they work,” he said.

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