New Britain Common Council holds first virtual meeting amid coronavirus concerns

Published on Thursday, 26 March 2020 11:22
Written by Catherine Shen


NEW BRITAIN – Adapting to the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak and practicing social distancing, the Common Council held their first virtual meeting Wednesday where several of its members dialed in remotely.

Mayor Erin Stewart, who was present at Council Chambers in City Hall, said this was a precaution in order to keep everyone safe and they’re only able to conduct business this way due to Governor Ned Lamont’s executive orders.

She kicked off the meeting by stating a disclaimer that the governor’s orders “suspended the requirement for in-person attendance of meetings of elected officials during this public health crisis and once the emergency is over, then the rest of the council will go back to being required to attend in-person in order to participate in these council meetings,” she said.

The mayor was joined by Alderwoman Iris Sanchez and Alderman Willie Pabon, Kristian Rosado, Kris Rutkowski, Emmanuel Sanchez, Francisco Santiago, Robert Smedley and Michael Thompson at Council Chambers, while Alderwoman Sharon Beloin-Saavedra and Aldermen, Chris Anderson, Aram Ayalon, Howard Dyson, Richard Reyes, and Daniel Salerno dialed in remotely. Alderman Colin Osborn was absent.

The council unanimously approved a resolution for a grant that will support “Distracted Driving High Visibility Enforcement” efforts during the month of April and the first two weeks of August.

According to the resolution, the state Department of Transportation’s Division of Highway Safety has made a federal highway safety fund of $49,273 available to support overtime in order to oversee the enforcement. In accordance with federal requirements, all initial allowable expenses will be provided for by the city and reimbursable on a 100% basis.

The unanimously approved resolution gives the Police Department the authority to accept the grant.

In other business, the council approved for Dattco, Inc., a city-based company to provide for the city’s Recreation and Community Services Department’s summer bus transportation. Invitations to bid were solicited and they were reviewed for conformance to specifications by the Recreation and Community Services Department.

Because Dattco was not the lowest bidder, Alderman Aram Ayalon asked there are other examples of previous projects where the lowest bidder was not chosen and if that was common practice for the city.

Erik Barbieri, director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department, said there are ordinances that allow for local bidders to get a percentage differential when it comes to bidding.

“In this particular case you have to be within 10% and that local bidder was within 10% and they opted to match the bid that was offered. That’s why they were given the opportunity and they did accept it, so they were offered the bid,” explained Barbieri.

Ayalon said he would like the city to return with a list of similar examples for review, but he was all about supporting local businesses.

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Posted in New Britain Herald, New Britain on Thursday, 26 March 2020 11:22. Updated: Thursday, 26 March 2020 11:24.