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Marini: Cancel The Referendum, Process Has Gone Off The Rails

by John Marini | GUEST COLUMN | Jun 10, 2013 6:13 am

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Posted to: Ansonia, Letters To The Editor

This column was written in response to this article.

Bonding is a great idea and one that can save the city money in the long term.

In fact, I have long urged the use of bonding as a way to fund large and necessary capital expenses. I support many of the items on the list, including funding for school security, the nature center and the fire house roof.

However, this bonding project has been run miserably since its announcement and is at this point an absolute embarrassment to the city.

The proposal was cooked-up by the BOA President and a small group of city officials in closed-door meetings. 

The proposal was first presented to the full BOA on May 6, 2013 (in the absence of bond counsel). Many aldermen expressed concern over the projects selected and the speed at which this $4.9 million spending project was proceeding. 

In good faith I extended my support of the proposal in the hopes that the BOA could work together for the good of Ansonia.  

Since that time the project has run entirely off the rails.

· The advertising of the referendum violates state law.  The BOA President made a unilateral decision to use city funds to purchase signs endorsing a “yes” vote on the bond.  Beyond the fact that the BOA should have approved of this expenditure, the signs were flagrant violations of state campaign finance laws. Moreover, the signs did not indicate who paid for them and they were improperly placed on public property.  The signs were eventually taped over to hide the “yes” vote endorsement.   

· The bonding project no longer makes financial sense.  Due to a last minute sudden change the bonding items have been broken into several different ballot questions.  Bonding only makes sense if the total amount of the bond justifies incurring long-term debt.  There is now a risk that the bond questions with smaller price tags will pass, while the larger ones will not.  If this occurs, there will be no tax savings.  There will only be increased spending.

· Poor communication between city leaders. The full BOA did not meet to approve expenditures for advertising the bonding project.  The full BOA did not meet with city departments to determine the best bonding projects.  The full BOA did not consult with bond counsel to discuss the details of the bonding process.  In fact, the full BOA has yet to meet with bond counsel on this matter.  

· Poor communication with residents.  Does anyone know what they are to be voting for on June 25?  I advocated for ward meetings to educate the public. Only now, in the 11th hour, are these meetings being scheduled.   

· Last minute changes continue.  Many aldermen, myself included, learned only on June 6, 2013 that the bond was being broken into separate ballot questions. Are there other changes coming? 

I am sorry to say that I can no longer support the proposal. 

This multi-million dollar bonding project has become the badly managed “pet project” of a small group of city officials. 

I am urging that the full Board of Aldermen vote to cancel the June 25 referendum.

The writer is an Ansonia Republican member of the Board of Aldermen, representing the city’s Seventh Ward.

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