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Plenty of responsibility to go around

4-18-14

Plenty of responsibility to go around

Stephen Kosinski asserts in his April 11 letter that selectmen are doing what they were elected to do.

He states that “line item cuts are made in all Connecticut municipalities.” Perhaps. But it is important to understand who is supposed to do this. Under the town manager form of government, the professional manager crafts the budget because it is the manager who has the day-to-day knowledge and interaction with the department heads and employees themselves. In other words, it’s his job.

Selectmen incorrectly think that they are supposed to “cut” line items of the budget even though most have no idea how to fashion a municipal budget and have no understanding of the day-to-day workings of town departments.

Such “cutting” is unproductive, destructive and unrepresentative of town needs. A look at town infrastructure shows how budgets hacked away at by selectmen have underfunded basic town services for decades.

Every selectman is guilty of the bad habit of “cutting” the budget. It is NOT the job of selectmen to scratch here and there, willy-nilly, at the town budget. We saw a painful exhibition of this bad habit at the March 31 budget meeting at Pearson School.

We have department heads and a finance director to do this. The town manager then reviews it and amends it where he considers appropriate to keep in it line with the policy directives of the selectmen.

Selectmen develop policy: what they want Winsted to look like. Then they direct the town manager to prepare a budget that reflects this vision. Only then will the public be able to understand and support the town in a meaningful way.

Next, Mr. Kosinski seems to blame only recent selectmen for former finance director Henry Centrella’s crimes. But the prosecutor stated at Henry’s sentencing that he is certain that the crimes go back farther than 2008 (maybe 2001?) but that the state cannot prosecute. Henry’s IRS scheme goes back to the 1990s and maybe longer.

So any blaming of selectmen must include: three-term Republican Mayor Bill McCabe, a certified public accountant and partner at Arthur Anderson; Republican selectman David Cappabianca, who served the five terms as selectman — four of these terms in the majority; Republican John Forrest served five terms, four in the majority; Selectmen Mike Hamm, Ken Fracasso, Jeff Liskin, Gene Berlinski — the self-proclaimed “businessmen” board, and Glenn Albanesius. These Republicans all professed to be “businessmen” and served throughout the past two decades, often in the majority. (Candy Perez has served the most terms, six. But four of these terms were in the minority.)

In fact, over the past two decades, Republicans have held the majority eight times — the supermajority twice — or 16 years. The Democrats have held the majority four times, the supermajority once — or eight years. The Republicans have exerted the most control in Winsted and have fired the most town managers, which caused the instability that facilitated Henry’s crimes.

Until the Democratic supermajority in 2011, Henry’s crimes went unchecked and undiscovered.

Charlene LaVoie

 

Winsted

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