WATERTOWN — The Town Charter Revision Commission, meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, October 22, invited the heads of town departments and continued discussions on what should be updated in the charter.

The commission invited the heads of some of the town’s departments to discuss their departments’ roles in the charter.

Members from the Board of Education could not make it to the meeting.

Director of the Park and Recreation Department Lisa Carew went before the commission to answer any questions.

The Park and Recreation Department has folded in the responsibilities of the Department of Social Services. The responsibilities of both departments can be found under section 604 and section 607.

Ms. Carew told the commission that they should look into updating the language of the charter so that it meets modern standards.

She also suggested that the commission should increase the monetary transfer limits department heads can make without Town Council approval.

“That will be a nice thing for the departments,” said Ms. Carew.

The commission thanked her and then invited Superintendent of the Watertown Water and Sewer Authority Vincent Caterino to speak.

He told the commission that he did not see any glaring issues regarding the WWSA in the charter.

“I don’t see any problems at all the way it’s set up,” he said.

Mr. Caterino did ask the commission to edit the language of the charter when it came to defining the quality of the water in its pipes.

The WWSA gets its water from Waterbury and signs a contract with the city. The contract determines the quality of the water that the town receives.

Mr. Caterino said that the numbers regarding the quality of water in the charter are outdated and that the charter should say that the WWSA should ensure that the water quality follows its contracts, instead of a specific number that will become outdated.

Members of the commission asked about the history of the WWSA and where the Watertown Fire District fits in.

Town Attorney Franklin Pilicy informed the council that the WWSA falls under the jurisdiction of the town government. The Watertown Fire District is a separate entity that operates in the town and does not work with the town government. They operate under their own board, have their own budget and get their water supply from reservoirs in Bethlehem and Woodbury.

After speaking with the department heads, Commission Chair Robert Kane asked commission members if they had any points they wanted to discuss.

Vice Chair Zaiga Antonetti said she had an issue with Section 307 of the charter, which details the procedure for Public Hearings and Publication of Ordinances.

Ms. Antonetti believes that when an ordinance is brought before the council, they must hold a vote on it within a set time frame.

She stated that the council has delayed voting on ordinances for months and that they sit in limbo without action taken.

She also expressed concern that once an ordinance has been passed, it can be difficult for the public to know that it has gone into effect.

Mr. Pilicy recommended that the commission edit the part of the charter that gives a deadline for when the council can approve an ordinance and when the town manager has to alert the public of new ordinances.

Members of the commission agreed with Ms. Antonetti’s point.

“Our job is to make sure we have effective government,” said commission member Rachel Ryan, supporting the idea of creating a timeframe for the council to follow when handling new ordinances.

The commission will discuss the idea of changing that area of the charter at later meetings.

Those seeking additional information on the meeting may view the minutes at http://www.watertownct.org/content/10290/15783/default.aspx

(1) comment

Zaiga

A little clarification. my concern was not with the time it might take for the Council to vote on an actual ordinance change, but the time it can take for the full Council to schedule the required public hearing on a modification once it has been presented to them. In at least one instance it was 5 months. Also, nothing but praise for Lisa Cattanneo and the Town Manager's office for their very quick action in making it easier for the public to find and see ordinance changes that have been enacted but not yet codified. It took less than one day to find a way to increase transparency. Great public service. Thank you.

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