It appears Bethelites may be in for some interesting changes.
UPDATE: Bethel Action Committee issues Taxpayer Alert ahead of Charter Revision Town Meeting: http://www.scribd.com/doc/198609082/Charter-Revision-Taxpayer-Alert-From-Bethel-Action-Committee
1. Increase Board of Selectman (BOS) from three-members to five-members
Pros: A five-member BOS Will allow selectman to confer with one another in pairs so that information and idea flows can exists without violating the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). As is currently, if either of the Selectmen were to have a conversation about the town, which was not properly noticed, and recorded, they would be violating the FOIA. Some argue a three-member board is less efficient and moves too slowly.
A five member board allows for greater debate, discussion, and consideration of all issues which come before the Board of Selectmen.
Cons: Cost? Are we adding two more people to the taxpayer funded pay roll? If so, what is that cost?
2. Four-year election term instead of two-year term.
Pros: Reduces the period, impact, distraction, and cost of two-year election cycles.
Cons: The State of CT has no recall provision and the Town of Bethel has no method of enforcing its charter (outside of a regularly scheduled election) therefore a four year term would leave the town with an elected Board of Selectman for 4 years and would leave the residents without the ability to remove them (for any reason) until the next election.
3. Clarify that the Board of Finance can change the bottom line of a town department's budget, but the first selectman would have the ability to make line item transfers within a department as long as they are revenue neutral and do not change the number of staff.
Arguments in favor of this: This stops the micromanagement of department budgets and allows the Board of Finance (BOF) and Board of Selectman (BOS) ultimate bottom line authority prior to going to public for a vote.
Arguments in Opposition of this: This new language leaves the Board of Finance with limited checks and balances over spending.
This is going to be one of those important, long-impact, citizen involvement, get out the vote, issues. If you plan to raise your family in Bethel, you might want to keep an eye on this one.
Here is the link to the overview of Charter Changes: http://www.bethel-ct.gov/filestorage/1190/136/148/Summary_of_Charter_Changes_1-7-2014.pdf
Here is a link to track the changes and review the commissions votes: http://www.bethel-ct.gov/controls/NewsFeed.aspx?FeedID=64
To better understand how these changes were agreed upon, review the Charter Revision Commission minutes from April 25th, 2013 and May 13th, 2013 Below:
Bethel Action Committee issues Taxpayer Alert ahead of Charter Revision Town Meeting: http://www.scribd.com/doc/198609082/Charter-Revision-Taxpayer-Alert-From-Bethel-Action-Committee