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Charter update necessary

The ugly and prolonged financial scandal in Winsted is finally behind us. The convicted finance director stole millions of dollars from taxpayers, which included his family, friends and neighbors. He put his selfish and wanton needs above his duty and put this community in financial chaos for decades.

Competent management and leadership has quickly led to relative stability and progress in town. The revolving door of town managers has stopped, the fund balance is growing, the town’s credit rating will soon be restored, and we can plan for badly needed capital improvements.

Over the past year, the Charter Revision Commission (CRC) reviewed the governing document of the town and determined that several provisions required updating. All six recommendations of the CRC should be supported by voters on the Tuesday, Nov. 8 ballot.

The final report of the CRC includes clear explanatory text on the proposed revisions that you can read online, and review the ballot questions, at www.townofwinchester.org. 

The CRC proposed the following changes:

1. Modify the 30-year-old financial levels in the Charter that have not kept up with inflation:

a. Increase the amount required to trigger voter approval of an expenditure not already in the budget from a specific dollar amount ($15,000) to a percentage (0.09 percent) of total budget expenditures (education and town combined) — or approximately $27,000 — in Sections 305C and 305D;

b. Increase the amount required to trigger competitive bidding from a specific dollar amount ($3,000) to a percentage (0.03 percent) of total budget expenditures (education and town combined) — or approximately $10,000 — in Section 911.

2. Change the annual town budget to the second Monday in May instead of the first Monday, which shortens the time between the budget meeting and the budget referendum by one week in sections 1102 and 1108A.

3. Add a provision for a confidential ballot option at the annual budget meeting — section 1102B.

There are four recommendations but six questions on the ballot. This is because two of these recommendations are mentioned in more than one Charter section. Therefore, all sections must be changed to be consistent.

The CRC handled its charge professionally, carefully considering the issue before reaching its final recommendations. We can support these changes knowing that it will help Winsted continue to recover from its difficult financial past and move toward a brighter future. Vote yes on all six ballot questions.

Charlene LaVoie


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