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Shelton Democrats Adopt Resolution Opposing The 2023 City Charter Revision

The members of the Shelton Democratic Town Committee adopted the following resolution in opposition to the proposed 2023 charter revision proposal. We ask all Shelton voters to once again vote no to the charter revision question on this year’s ballot, just as we did 3 years ago when these proposal, with minor changes, came before us and were voted down in a bipartisan fashion.

The resolution reads as follows;

Just 3 short years ago, the Shelton voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposed charter revision. Now the city is again proposing many of the same changes that we rejected in 2020. This attempt to disregard the will of the people is further aggravated by the fact that the Charter Revision Committee did not represent the Shelton community; no Democrats were named to the committee by the Mayor or Board of Alderman. In addition, the meetings were not properly advertised or posted on the City’s website and were held at 5:30 pm to limit public input.

Based on the final draft of the revision, the Shelton Democratic Town Committee notes the following highlights.

First, there is the continued push to change minority representation on the Board of Education from 5-4 to 6-3. This seems to be the overriding motive to conduct another charter revision. Mayor Lauretti wants BOE members that he can control and thus continue to underfund the education system. The BOE should not be political and both parties should work collaboratively on policies and support the needs of the City’s children. The Mayor did not like that current BOE members voted in a bipartisan fashion, 7-2 on a budget that was then sent to the Board of Aldermen (a very embarrassing scenario when the BOA rejected it). A super-majority of 6-3 makes it easier for the Mayor to control the BOE with his handpicked Republican members.

A second key facet of the Charter that is detrimental, is the desire to increase the bonding capacity of the City budget from 2% to 2.5%. Recall that in the last charter revision the voters rejected a proposed increase to 3% of the total budget. The Charter Revision Committee is seeking an increase of more than $600,000 in potential bond indebtedness without voter approval. This comes at a time when interest rates have jumped and will be a further burden for the taxpayers. The Mayor has used bonding inappropriately for items that should be part of the budget and cost much more when retired into the future.

Third, the Mayor has not funded technology to handle City business. He has placed Shelton far behind other towns in technology progress for the various city departments. As a result, the City is woefully behind in many technology driven tasks including basic functions such as maintaining the City’s website. But the creation of a technology committee that forces the BOE to take a subordinate position to other city agencies is not an answer to this problem. It usurps the independence of the school system. In addition, the BOE has different functions and requirements in educating students while the general City business is quite different. Currently, the BOE employs a multi-member Tech team to support instructional platforms, store student academic records, and maintain health and personal records of over 4,000 students - the city employs only one network technician to run an overused and antiquated system. The charter revision calls for 6 members to be appointed by the Mayor & BOA, with 3 by the BOE. Once again, The Mayor is seeking to dominate this sphere of the school system, whose personnel would be forced to cover the inadequacies of the present City government technology development.

The above three areas are symptomatic of a poorly revised (written) charter that serves only to strengthen the Mayor’s control.

Resolved that the SDTC opposed the Charter as revised (written) and urges Shelton voters from all parties to reject this document.

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