Commission considers four-year mayoral term

Secretary of the Charter Revision Commission Lenny Caine, left, looks over the current charter with Vice-Chair Sarah Poynton during a Charter Revision Commission earlier this year. - FILE PHOTO

NAUGATUCK— Doubling the length of the mayor’s term can now be added to the growing list of potential changes to the Town Charter coming out of the Charter Revision Commission.

Leonard Caine, a member of the commission’s subcommittee that researched changes dealing with the borough’s election process, said the subcommittee favors extending the mayor’s term to four years. But, the subcommittee felt, terms for burgesses should stay at two years, he said.

“That’s the position we’re taking now,” Caine said, during the commission’s May 19 meeting.

Caine said due to the work involved and the complexity of the mayor’s job it was the subcommittee’s feeling that only the term for mayor should be extended.

The idea received support among those commission members present.

Burgess Robert Neth, a commission member, said he favors a four year mayoral term because, as a burgess, he sees the work that goes into the position.

Neth said the first year a new mayor is in office that person is learning the job, and then the second year that person is running for office again.

Extending the mayoral term would be in conflict with another change being discussed by the commission. The commission is also taking a hard look at switching Naugatuck to a town manger style of government from the current mayoral form.

A town manger style of government was extensively discussed during the commission’s April meeting. Those in favor of the switch felt that a town manager would bring continuity and stability to Town Hall and give the borough a professionally trained individual to run day-to-day operations.

Commission member David Cronin said he could support a four-year mayoral term and a town manager. However, he emphasized that a town manager would take politics out of the equation.

“You get the town manager you’re not dealing with politics,” Cronin said.

Commission member Sarah Poynton felt a town manager would take power away from the people and that’s she’s not in favor of the idea.

“I have a hard time taking democracy out of the hands of the people,” Poynton said.

One issue that isn’t gaining support among the commission is the implementation of an automatic referendum on the borough budget.

Currently, if residents want to force a vote on the budget they have to petition to do so each time a proposal is put forth. The commission is exploring making the budget referendum automatic in the borough. But, so far, the idea hasn’t received wide-spread backing on the commission.

The commission discussed a compromise on the issue last week, in which residents would only have to petition once to force a referendum. Then, if the budget fails, every budget proposal thereafter would automatically go to a public vote.

Other changes the commission is looking at include changing the date of the municipal election from May to November, making the town clerk and tax collector positions appointed rather than elected, and implementing a local bidder preference policy.

The commission scheduled its next meeting for June 9, when it plans to approve its draft proposal to be presented at a public hearing in July.

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