To the editor,
In response to Susan Cable’s letter on the EDC position, I want to thank First Selectman Chris Bielik for standing up for what is right for all of Beacon Falls and urge him not to cave under the pressure that the Democratic Town Committee is trying to force on his administration to rush to hire just anyone for the EDC coordinator position. I also applaud the entire EDC Commission and specifically Chairman Rodrigo for believing that there is more to be gained by slowing the process down and continue the search for someone that fully meets the qualifications they originally put forth. To everyone’s point, this is important for the town and to select someone just because of past service, is not the correct path for Beacon Falls.
I was present at the Dec. 8 Board of Selectmen meeting where multiple members of the DTC cried foul and former First Selectman Cable spoke of the “injustice” that was hurled at her family in the online Citizen’s News newspaper. I have revisited those comments and do not read anything there other than a call for Selectman Betkoski to recuse himself from the discussion. The authors of those online comments, though anonymous, also raised concerns that the decision was cast in stone long before the interview process began — they have been proven wrong.
I disagree with Mrs. Cable’s comments that the people of Beacon Falls voted to hire an EDC coordinator. Very few residents were present for the Board of Finance budget deliberations when the EDC line items were discussed. While it is correct that the conversation included the possibility of hiring a marketing firm to assist, the line item is labeled: Membership/Marketing. It is a stretch that anyone would assume it meant hiring a coordinator.
Related to the expenditure of the line item for a marketing program, I do not believe there is any special action needed to use these funds as EDC has been discussing. As selectman I attended multiple Council of Small Towns (COST) and other presentations related to municipal budgets. It was made very clear that once a municipal budget is approved the board or commission that requested the funds has within its jurisdiction and authority to use their funds as needed, as long as they do not exceed their overall budget. This came up under the former first selectman’s administration and was on several occasions tested and agreed to, so it is unclear why someone would declare this use of funds as “not at all acceptable.”
Commissioner Rodrigo points out that his commission has nearly reached the limits of which a part-time committee can achieve and needs someone to assist to bring the town to the next level. When the time is right, I would suggest looking for a firm or very qualified individual that can look beyond the past two decades of accomplishments and bring a new vision to Beacon Falls.
Editor’s note: The following correction to this letter was sent after press time.
In my letter published in the New Year’s edition of this paper, I commented on the EDC Coordinator position in 2014-15 budget that I must correct. In reviewing the budget again I associated the overall conversation related to the taxpayers approving the hiring of an EDC Coordinator to the wrong line item. In making my comment I was looking at the Membership/Marketing line and not the Consultant line. My apologies for any misunderstanding this may have caused.
I do stand by the other comments in my letter, specifically that the EDC Commission has the authority to reallocate the consultant funds. The Town is not required to hire a consultant. I did not go into details on how that might transpire, but they can vote as a committee to change direction. Notification to the Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance of this decision would be advisable for full transparency.