Your Home for the Groton
Charter revision referendum

Vote YES Question 3

It's time for positive change in Groton

 

  • The Charter Revisions include an Annual Budget Referendum:

  • It empowers all voters by allowing them to vote directly on the Town and Board of Education budgets. The Budgets will be approved by referendum without regard to arbitrary minimum voter turnouts, triggering mechanisms or caps. Citizens will vote on the budgets every year.

  • It improves transparency and accountability in our local government. The Town Council will be required to explain and justify the appropriateness of the budgets. Mandatory voter approval of the budgets focuses our town spending on what’s most important.

  • It provides a strong check and balance on Groton government. The Town Council and Board of Education budgets will be subject to voter approval. Voters will tell the Town Council and Board of Education if they are spending more than can be afforded, if the budgets are in line with community needs, or even if they want budgets to support additional services.


  • The Charter Revisions include a Board of Finance (BOF):

  • It will be solely dedicated to Groton’s financial success. An elected Board of seven volunteers will be dedicated to and accountable for a deep understanding of the town’s financial matters.

  • It will provide critical financial analysis and visibility. A five-year financial forecast of pertinent financial indicators will provide context for the annual budgeting process. The BOF will provide transparency and visibility to the town’s financial reports.

  • It will communicate with the public. As early as October the BOF will develop a budget schedule and begin budget communications with the public.


  • The Charter Revisions will retire the Representative Town Meeting (RTM):

  • The RTM budget review process is redundant and wastes Town resources. Having both the RTM and Town Council go through the budget using nearly identical processes adds very little value while duplicating the use of staff resources.

  • The RTM performs its duties after the Town Manager and the Town Council have acted. It functions in a reactive way, after the Town Manager and the Town Council have already acted.

  • The RTM provides no clear check and balance on the Town Council. Critical review or rejection of Town Ordinances is lacking. The RTM has a history of rubber stamping the budget.


  • The Charter Revisions will extend Town Council terms to four years and minority party representation will be required:

  • Today the make-up of the Council is subject to significant and extreme change with two-year terms. Party sweeps result in up to 9 new Town Councilors every two years, leaving no opportunity to master a steep learning curve. A varied and complicated workload with many multi-year initiatives force Councilors to do a job prior to learning it.

  • Four-year terms give Councilors the opportunity to learn skills and capabilities to more effectively perform the budget process. They will have twice as long to become better, more capable and efficient public servants, similar to the 4-year terms of the Board of Education.

  • With the dissolution of the RTM, the State mandates the Town Council be subject to a maximum of 6 members of one political party. Groton has over 18,000 active voters with thousands of Democrats, Republicans and Unaffiliated voters. There will be representation from both major parties, making the Town Council more representative of Groton voters.


  • Frequently asked questions:

  • How Much Will A Budget Referendum Cost? A budget referendum is estimated to cost ~ $20,000. To keep this in perspective, the cost equates to about $.50 per Groton resident.

  • Will There Be Multiple Budget Referendums? When both the Town and Board of Education budgets are approved the first time, then just one referendum is enough. If either the Town or BOE budgets doesn’t pass the first time, then the town council considers feedback from the failed vote, reviews the budget, and another referendum is held. It’s the Council’s job to listen to Groton voters, explain why the proposed budget is necessary and get the budgets passed as quickly as possible. In CT roughly 88% of budget referendums pass on the first vote.

  • What Are The Qualifications For A Member Of The Board Of Finance? As with every other elected official, there is no written set of qualifications. The people who vote will decide if those running for this position are qualified. The job duties are clearly spelled out and include data research, financial analysis, planning and clear public communications.

  • Will small factions or groups be able to control the budget vote? Will they hurt our schools or community services? Groton voters will speak their minds with their votes, just like they do in National, State and local elections. Just like they do when they vote on a bonding ordinance, like the recent $184,500,000 Groton 2020 school program to pay for new Middle and Grade schools that was approved. Groton voters have proven that they will support our children and their schools. This is a very diverse thinking community with many politically active groups across a spectrum of ideologies. There are people of all economic situations. Approximately 5,000 voters have come to the polls in each of the past voting opportunities.

  • The Charter Revisions are significant improvements to the Groton town government. The key governance components like the Town Council, the Town Manager, the Board of Education, and many, many Agencies, Boards and Commissions are all remaining. The replacement of the RTM with an Annual Budget Referendum and particularly the Board of Finance will bring a breadth and professionalism to the review of Groton’s finances that does not exist today. The annual budget referendum and Board of Finance overview will result in a higher level of diligence in the budget preparation process. 

This is a unique opportunity to make changes in Groton’s governance. Vote YES for positive change.

Follow us on Facebook

History

Getting to November - Your Right to Vote

  

The Groton Town Council established the Charter Revision Commission on May 3, 2016.   The Commission first met on May 23, 2016.
 

Commission membership consisted of two former Mayors of the Town, two former Town Councilors one of which was also a former RTM member, 3 former RTM members and 4 members with no prior experience in Town Government.

  

Meeting over a 16 month period, the Commission held 31 working sessions and two public hearings. All sessions were noticed in advance, open to the public and included a period for citizen comments.   


Following Robert's Rules of Order, the revisions were proposed through 97 formal motions involving well over 150 individual votes.


The Commission submitted its draft report to the Town Council on August 21, 2017.   The Town Council held a public hearing on the draft report and returned their comments to the Commission. The Commission considered the Town Council's comments and returned its final report back to the Town Council on Nov 15, 2017. 


On Nov. 18, 2017 the Town Council voted 5-4 to not send the charter recommendations to a vote by the public.   


Subsequent to this vote several members of the Charter Revision Commission and a number of Groton citizens conducted a petition drive, provided for under Connecticut law, to force the Charter Revision to a vote by the public.    1900 signatures were required.   Securing over 2400 signatures the petition drive succeeded and the citizens of Groton now have an opportunity to vote on the proposed charter changes in November.