On January 10, 2011, the Brookfield Board of Selectmen charged (CRC) to begin its review and consideration of the Town Charter for a term of 15 months. The nine appointed members of the CRC include: Lawrence Miller (Chair), Joni Park (Vice-Chair), Dorothy Miles (Secretary), Peter Scalzo, David Propper, Susan Martone, Ron Jaffe, Greg Dembowski and Mark Labadia.
The CRC will hold a public hearing on Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 7 p.m. in the Seminar Room of the (WMS) to present its preliminary positions. This is an opportunity for all Brookfield voters to participate with comments at this public hearing.
At on February 3, 2011, the BCRC accepted public comments with regard to proposed revisions to the Town Charter, and comments about certain elements of the Town Charter, which should not be revised. To incorporate all comments presented at the public hearing, the CRC organized a work plan based on three major subject headings: (a.) Form of Government, (b.) Fiscal, and; (c.) Legal/Technical.
In addition, the CRC accepted public comments at its regularly scheduled meetings, contacted all Brookfield boards and commissions for their individual and collective opinions and analyzed the forms of government in other Connecticut municipalities of similar population and annual budgets. Commission members considered other sources of information and presentations by invited guests as useful information as part of the overall process.
Having evaluated extensive sources of information, the CRC has now arrived at the following preliminary positions with regard to the Brookfield Town Charter:
- The CRC firmly believes in the Town Meeting form of government to ensure that the voters will continue to have a strong voice in selecting Brookfield’s elected officials, considering policy-making issues, maintaining fiscal accountability and determining the annual budget.
- The CRC acknowledges the leadership and accomplishments of Brookfield’s past and present Board of Selectmen; however, it also recognizes that Brookfield has grown significantly in both population and the size of its annual budget since its original Town Charter adopted in 1975. Compliance with various federal and state mandates has complicated the day-to-day operations of municipalities. Consequently, the CRC proposes hiring a Town Manager who is trained and qualified as a professional public administrator to act as Brookfield’s Chief Operating Officer in accordance with International City/County Management Association (ICMA) policies and standards. This Charter modification will clearly state that the Town Manager is merely an employee operating under the management of an elected Board of Selectmen.
- Although the CRC considered the concept of consolidating the Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance into a single Town Council, its members agreed to maintain the current Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance structure in order to maintain the current fiscal checks and balances.
- The CRC agrees that quorum requirements, compliance with the Freedom of Information Act, discussions between selectmen of different political affiliations and other encumbrances currently prevent an open dialog and exchange of information between and among the Selectmen. In the interest of efficiency, the CRC proposes to increase the number of Selectmen from three to five. Because of the increase from three to five Selectmen, the CRC also proposes that candidates for First Selectman would run only for the office of First Selectman, and the losing candidate would not become a member of the Board of Selectmen. The two-year term of office for all members of the Board of Selectmen will remain unchanged.
- CRC understands that significant changes in real estate and a reduction in the amount of land for the development of housing sub-divisions have raised the possibility of reducing the size of certain commissions to achieve greater efficiency. Consequently, the CRC is proposing a merger of the Planning and Zoning Commissions into a single commission to manage Brookfield’s planning and zoning regulations. The current Zoning and Planning Commissions, each having five full members and three alternates, would be consolidated having eight full members and three alternates.
- The CRC also is considering other changes to the Charter that will be presented for discussion concerning: (a.) budget advisory questions, (b.) threshold of voter petitions, (c.) limits on discretionary spending by the Board of Selectmen, as well as a number of corrective actions, which are viewed as technical in nature without the intent of substantive changes in town operations.