Letter: Resident questions whether board members have conflict

To the editor,

One would think that individuals appointed or elected to serve on any town board would recuse themselves if a topic came before them in which they have a personal or financial interest in.

Board of Finance Chairman Thomas Pratt and board member Kyle Brennan are also affiliated with Beacon Hose Co. No. 1.  During the budget workshops, both Pratt and Brennan engaged in conversations regarding capital expenses requested by the fire department instead of recusing themselves completely from the conversation, as they should have.

To make matters worse, during the fire department capital expenditure discussion, First Selectman Chris Bielik contributed to the fire department conversation with Pratt and Brennan. Bielik should have suggested that Pratt and Brennan recuse themselves knowing their affiliation and continued the conversation with other members.

At the May 14 Board of Finance meeting, I raised the conflict of interest concern in public comment and asked how this would be corrected in the future. Chairman Pratt did not answer the question and continued to adjournment.

I do not have a problem with the fire department, they do great work and provide safety to the community. I have a problem with the fire department’s large amount of spending. Having two people both serving on the Board of Finance and with the fire department, who don’t recuse themselves from their budgetary conversations, only promotes overspending.

How would the fire department capital expenses have been voted on if Pratt and Brennan recused themselves? Would other members have challenged the spending more or voted differently? We will never know.

Shawn Styfco

Beacon Falls

The writer is a member of the Beacon Falls Republican Town Committee. The letter was not written on behalf of the committee.