Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Opinion: Tom Serra Urges Voters To Reject 4 Year Terms

From Tom Serra, present Majority Council Leadeer, Former Mayor.
On Tuesday, November 4, 2014, there will be a very important decision to be made relative to the City of Middletown’s Charter changes that will be on the ballot. I respectfully urge the voters to Vote “NO” on Question# 1 (4 Year Term) and “YES” on Question# 2 (raising bonding limit) and “YES “on Question# 3 (adjusting language).

The following comments are my insights on my reasons to Vote NO, YES & YES on the proposed changes.

As a former Mayor and current Majority Leader of the Council as well as having City governmental experience in various other capacities since October of 1974, I would like to strongly recommend the following delineation of my reasons for the Middletown electorate to consider. I strongly recommend that Question #1 “NOT” be affirmed for the following principles: 1) Every 2 years should be considered as an evaluation of elective office holders, not 4.... 4 years is too long...most vocations are evaluated at least annually. 2) There is “No Recall” Statute in the State of Connecticut therefore, if you have inferior elected officials, you have no voice to adjust that until 4 years later...too long! 3) Off year elections (B.O.E. & P. Z.) without the Mayor or Council Candidates to vote for will manifest a very small voter turn out for those very important positions. 4) Every 2 years would make the candidates for these offices (Mayor & Council) meet and interact with the Public via campaigning every 2 years instead of 4 years. 5) In the historical past, 2-year election cycles have worked well. “Why change something that is not broken”. Vote “NO” on Question #1.

I believe that over the past 9 years, in particular, the City of Middletown’s finances have been very stable in light of the economy during that time period. The stableness is shown not only by our budgeting and audits but more importantly, by our AA2 Bond rating, the second highest a municipality can receive. Therefore, from that benchmark, we have consistently done well. In analyzing our Bond Rating, the following areas of City finances are evaluated by Wall Street Bond Raters: Our Grand list, Our ability to pay, Our ERG, Our Educational System, Our budgeting, our Economic development, Our Fund Balance and our investment in our infrastructure. It is important to note that we invest in our infrastructure in a responsible way for two reasons; 1) Is for safety reasons first and it would cost more later. 2) It also aids us in attaining and maintaining our superb AA2 Bond Rating for our ERG. Since we have done this investment in a very conscientious rational manner in the past, I recommend that a “YES” vote would be appropriate for Question# 2.

Question #3 is to clean up some antiquated language as well as to make sure our Charter is in concert with State Statutes. I recommend a “YES” vote for Question #3.

In conclusion, and with the aforementioned reasons in mind, I strongly recommend a “NO” Vote on Question #1 and a “YES “Vote on Questions #2 and #3.


David Bauer said...

First, a comment on the ballot format, question #1 on the ballot is a state-wide question concerning absentee ballots.

I strongly agree with Tom Serra's reasoning to vote "No" for 4-year terms for local elected officials (Question #2). Election campaigns are one of the most important dialogues the City has concerning current operations and future plans - let's not cut that dialogue in half.

Pleased as I am for the City's current Bond Rating, we can never let up on the discipline needed to maintain sound City finances. When the Council bonding limit was raised from $500K to $750K, many of the bonding packages increased because the current Municipal mindset works the bonding ceiling more like a target. If the bonding limit is raised to $1 Million, I predict that will become the new target. Bonding referenda placed on the ballot are another form of dialogue that engages the entire City in its finances. I recommend a "No" vote on Question #3.

I also urge a "Yes" vote on Question #5, one of the last pieces of CSO sewer work to improve our handling of water runoff.

Anonymous said...

Honestly Councilman Serra, why distance yourself from Mayor Drew now? You and he had picked the democrats and Phil Pessina on this board and now you don't like the out come? Only yourself to blame for what you helped create.