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Vote ‘No’ On BOF Elimination



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To the Editor:

The Legislative Council is proposing that the Town Board of Finance be eliminated and its functions rolled into the Legislative Council. Newtown voters will be asked to approve this short-sighted and counterproductive move in a November ballot referendum.

We should vote “NO.”

Although the Legislative Council is vested with ultimate financial authority in our town, Newtown voters more than 20 years ago approved the creation of an independent Board of Finance.

What does the BOF do, exactly? The current Town Charter says:

“The Board of Finance recommends a budget proposal and submits it to the Legislative Council for final action … In addition, the Board advises the Board of Selectmen and Board of Education during the budget process and all Town Bodies on preferred financial practices and obligations. The Board of Finance also reviews and assesses financial operations including transfers, regular and Special Appropriations.”

The Legislative Council wants to take over these functions and eliminate the additional perspective of this independent Board, which is elected on a town wide basis.

We need to ask ourselves if the Legislative Council, with many town responsibilities, should have complete control over the budget practices and policies of the Town, or should an elected, independent Board continue to serve as a check on the more partisan council?

Even if you don’t like the politics of a particular Legislative Council, you have to wonder whether they have the time and the capacity to be as thorough in their analysis as an independent Board of Finance has always proven itself to be.

Those who support eliminating the Board will undoubtedly argue that the Board’s functions are duplicative and inefficient, and that the Legislative Council can always create a special “advisory council” to deal with complicated or preliminary financial matters. There is no way that unelected specialists chosen by a political body known for its partisanship should be substituted for an independent board chosen by the voters.

Those who support eliminating the Board will also say “skilled people don’t want to run for office.” That position is disrespectful to those who have served in all elected positions and is disrespectful of the ability of the voters to choose wisely.

Be very wary when a politician tells you they will pick an expert instead of letting you vote. Vote “NO” on the Charter Review proposal.

Peter Schwarz


Comments are open. Be civil.
1 comment
  1. ryan knapp says:

    I respect the service of the BOF members and would welcome any of them on the LC or an advisory body with more freedom to do work and be thought leaders.
    However the issue is the BOF as constituted is just as political a board as the LC by nature of party centered elections. The bipartisan CRC looked at a lot of alternatives but this was their final recommendation. The charge to consolidate authority (in line with the 2 into 1 budget structure used by our neighbors in Brookfeild, Southbury, Monroe, Bethel, and Oxford vs our 2 into 1 into 1 model) was put forward by a Democrat led Council, and now advanced by a Republican led Council, so this is not a partisan issue but a process question that should be rooted in reality of how things are in practice.
    My comments are my own and not on behalf of the Legislative Council of which I am a member.

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