SOUTHINGTON - The Town Council unanimously approved changes to the ethics code Monday, calling for greater transparency for those serving on town boards.
During a public hearing, four residents spoke in favor of the ethics code revision which calls for those who serve on town boards or committees as well as immediate relatives living with them to disclose financial interests.
“I think that the change that is up for vote should be voted yes,” said James Gura. “I think everyone on every board should give out their financial information even if you may never find every LLC they are affiliated with.”
Chris Polis, another resident, said that the new requirements would help to protect those who serve on boards from the appearance of conflicts of interest.
Prior to the hearing, Councilor Cheryl Lounsbury mentioned that the town clerk had received six letters in support of the revision.
The council also decided to hold off on adopting the budget based on advice from Speaker of the House Joseph Aresimowicz. The budget will instead be adopted at a June 12 meeting and will go to the Board of Finance June 14.
“Because the state is almost daily switching gears on where the budget is at, town councilors decided to call Joe Aresimowicz,” said Riccio. “He advised us to hold off 30 days on voting on the budget. By then he said we should have a clearer idea of where the budget is at. We want to make sure we do this the right way.”
“I asked Joe if there would be any new information in 30 days,” said Town Manager Garry Brumback. “He said he wasn’t sure if a budget would be enacted but he was confident that he would be able to give us some better clarity at what is coming at us. As soon as I get information I will share it with both boards.”
Town Attorney Mark Sciota said that the town was facing a “unique situation” with the state making structural changes to how municipalities are funded.
The most recently proposed 2017-18 budget calls for a 0.84 mill increase in taxes due to the impact of state budget cuts.
The $143.4 million budget includes $56 million for the general government budget and $87.3 million for the Board of Education Budget. The budget is an 8.16 percent increase over the current year, but Brumback has noted that had there had been no cuts from the governor’s office or additional expenses in the governor’s budget, this budget would have only gone up by 2.62 percent. The current town budget proposal calls for no additional service levels and adds no new people.
Later, the council approved Mary Sargent to construct a “Little Free Library” on Mill Street next to the Armed Forces Pavilion. She had set up a similar small library on Mount Vernon Road. She works at the ESPN Kids Center and received a $500 grant to build the library.
Councilors John Barry and Victoria Triano wished Sargent luck with the library, with Barry saying that libraries provide a “great public service” in helping people to educate themselves.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.