Proposed town charter revision available for review, comment by Griswold residents

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Griswold - posted Mon., Jun. 10, 2013

The question of changing the town charter to dissolve the Board of Selectman and hire a city manager will be the topic of several public hearings this summer. The proposal is being floated by town officials and going directly to voters, rather than to a study group or committee, said First Selectman Philip Anthony.

At least two and possibly more public hearings will be held, starting later this summer, said Anthony. But in the meantime, residents are urged to visit the town website, www.griswold-ct.org, where they can read the entire proposed charter document, then offer their thoughts and comments on the proposal. Hard copies of the proposed charter are also available at Griswold Town Hall.

“The purpose is for residents and voters to participate fully, not just [to respond] yes or no, but to comment and ask for revisions,” Anthony said. “All comments and suggestions will be taken into account.”

The proposed charter would provide for an elected town council consisting of seven members, presided over by a chairperson and vice-chairperson. The town manager, appointed for an indefinite term by the town council, would be chosen for the post based on experience, and need not be a resident of the town, or even of the state, but would be expected to move to Griswold upon appointment to the post.

The town manager would be responsible for general administrative duties within the town, including appointing all department heads and other town employees, with advice and consent from the town council. The manager would be expected to attend town council meetings and would have a voice in discussion but no voting rights on the council’s decisions.

The manager would also be expected to serve as a town director of finance, providing an annual budget report and job descriptions for town employees and conducting a quarterly review of their job performance. The manager would also be subject to a quarterly job performance review by the town council. No elected town official would be allowed to give orders to any of the town manager’s subordinates. A vote of at least four town council members, along with 30 days’ notice, would be required to remove the town manager from office.

Griswold, like many New England towns, is governed by an elected three-person Board of Selectmen, with the first selectman as the nominal leader and town administrator. Some towns, like Killingly, opted to dissolve the board and instead elect a city council. Since the city manager in such towns is hired, not elected, he or she is less likely to be mired in issues of local politics – in theory, at least. Since it’s a paid position, the town council can hire a city manager who has municipal experience in a wide range of areas, which could be another advantage.

Anthony said that the proposed charter has been reviewed by the town attorney, and its formal adoption would be subject to a town meeting. Residents who wish to offer their thoughts on the proposal are encouraged to contact Anthony by phone at 860-213-1532 or by e-mail at firstselectman@griswold-ct.org.


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