Thursday, May 02, 2013

City Department Merger Passes 10-2 With Bi-Partisan Support

Tonight the Common Council held a special meeting to vote on the merging of a variety of City Departments as outlined in the report by the Mayor's Task Force on Government Efficiency. Part of the merger consolidates the Personnel and Legal departments. Previously this year, Drew proposed  a memorandum of understanding between the city and Board of Education to use city attorneys. The new merger also  calls for the hiring of a third City Attorney.

To change the make-up of City departments, the Middletown Charter calls for a 3/4 majority. To reverse the decision, a 3/4 majority would again be needed. The Council had the option of the adoption of a sunset clause to try the new organization out and have it automatically expire if it did not work and then re-adopt by re-vote should it be successful. The Council, however, did not choose to exercise this option.The Charter also says that the Personnel Director must preside over the meeting of the Personnel Review Committee, how this will be addressed with the supposed elimination of this position has yet to be determined. The former Personnel Director retired this past December, and in order for the newly appointed police chief to be implemented, the assistant Personnel Director was made active in order to hold the Personnel Committee to vet the candidate.

In an article in the Middletown Press by reporter Jim Salemi, Republican Town Committee chairman Ken McClellan was quoted in regards to the merger, he said
“This is not a merger you want to make. The legal and personnel departments should be independent so they can render independent opinions,” he said. “It puts personnel subject to legal department. They are two separate fields of responsibility, they should be independent.” 
The full article can be read here: 

McClellan also provided additional analysis we published here

The special meeting was not televised on cable access like more City Council meetings. Mayor Drew was quoted in the media stating that the merger will save the City money; the Insider has published a variety of opinion pieces and analysis detailing fallacies in this argument. Republican Councilmembers Deborah Kleckowski and Linda Salafia (Salafia wrote a previously published letter to the editor detailing her reasoning) were the two dissenting votes.  Democrat Majority Leader Tom Serra and Republican Minority Leader Phil Pessina each gave speeches endorsing the Mayor's planned merger. 

Earlier in the month, Republican Minority Leader endorsed the Mayor's budget which included a 3.3% increase in taxes when he introduced Mayor Drew at the March 28th press conference where he presented the 2013-2014  budget to the public.

During Mayor Drew's first term, taxes went up 3.8%. The 2012-2013 budget passed 10-2 also, with the two dissenting votes being Kleckowski and Salafia. Last year,the Republican Councilmembers drafted and proposed and alternative budget that would have not increased taxes to that degree, which when brought the floor, was voted against by Councilmembers Pessina and  Deputy Minority Leader Joe Bibisi.  The Common Council conducted a public meeting on Tuesday where citizens could comment on Drew's proposed budget.

The Council votes on the proposed budget on meeting May 15. 

The full budget as proposed by Mayor Drew is available for download on the City website in Revenue and Expenditure packages:
Editor's note:  Want to know more about the Government ReOrg?
Read the Insider Staff's analysis of the Government ReOrg here:  
The misleading merge of City Legal & BOE Legal: 
John Milardo spoke of the downsides of the Governmnet ReOrg in a previous Guest Blog piece here:://
Councilmember Linda Salafia also comments on negative aspects here:
Read the full report for yourself here:

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