BRISTOL – The City Council has accepted a list of recommendations from the Charter Revision Commission that include changing the city treasurer position from elected to appointed. The recommendations will be listed as referendum questions on the November ballot.
Jon Fitzgerald, commission chair, went over the recommendations at a public hearing this week. He said all the commission’s meetings were posted and open to the public, but there was virtually no public comment as the commission did its work.
He said the idea to appoint the city treasurer came from the current treasurer, Thomas Barnes Jr., since it’s a part-time position that involves serving on the pension board which requires some technical financial skill.
Fitzgerald said the commission looked at how other cities of similar size to Bristol handle their treasurer, and found most appoint the position.
“Was there any discussion about the political aspect?” asked Councilor Dave Mills. “An appointed position versus an elected position – that could entail some political pressure at times.”
Fitzgerald said that wasn’t a consideration, as the commission recommended the treasurer have a four-year term, the same as other department heads, and be someone chosen by the mayor and approved by the council.
The commission also recommended some changes to the police department and the Board of Police Commissioners, which Fitzgerald said were made at the suggestion of the mayor and Police Chief Brian Gould.
These include clarifying the role of the police board as being advisory and not actually in charge of the department; and removing the police board from the promotional process, leaving it more up to the chief, Fitzgerald said.
Wording in the charter about “the rank of captain” would be replaced with “non-bargaining positions” – “because the chief may want to change captains to deputy chiefs and under the charter he can’t do that,” he continued.
“We’re also reducing the role of police commissioners in the hiring process for the chief,” he said. “Currently now, as I understand it, the Board of Police Commissioners sends one name to the mayor and the council, and they either accept or reject it. If they reject it they send another name. Now they can send over all names who are qualified, with a recommendation, and the mayor can nominate anybody off that list.”
In addition, the Charter Revision Commission recommended: eliminating certain duties of the building official; designating the Water Department as the Sewer Department, its commission as the Sewer Commission, its superintendent as the Sewer Department superintendent, and clarifying their duties and responsibilities; and making other technical, non-substantive revisions to the charter.
Fitzgerald said a previous Charter Revision Commission moved the responsibility for managing the sanitary sewer systems from Public Works to the Water Department, so these new recommendations are simply clarifying that.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.