Selectmen’s meeting recap: board approves letter requesting state statute changes

Winsted Town Seal
Winsted Town Seal

WINSTED — After two months of deliberations, at their regular meeting on Monday, Oct. 19, the Board of Selectmen approved a letter to state representatives requesting that the state changes statutes to alter the way it negotiates budgets with The Gilbert School.
Selectman Steven Sedlack, who is a member of the W.L. Gilbert School Corporation, recused himself from the discussion and from signing the letter.
Back in August, the proposal to create a letter requesting the state changes its statutes came from Mayor Candy Perez.
The letter requests that the state change two statutes: State Statute 0-164-33 Tuition in towns in which no high school is maintained, and State Statute 0-164-34 Approval by State Board of incorporated or endowed high school.
“The big thing here is that we are asking them to change the statute to be able to make sure that there is a mediation and negotiation process for the schools so we stop getting to these ‘bang the heads together’ all the time,” Perez said.
At the meeting, Jack Bourque passed to selectmen proposed changes to the letter that he wrote.

As per an email sent to The Winsted Phoenix by Selectman Bourque, the board reviewed the following changes:

“The following are the changes approved by the Board of Selectmen on Monday, October 19 for the letter to State Senator Craig Miner and State Representative Jay Case originally dated October 15, 2020

Letter date should be November 4 or 5, 2020 (date will depend on the results of the November 3 election for these state offices.  Pending re-election by these people):

State Senator Craig Miner
State Representative Jay Case
Legislative Office Building
Hartford, CT 06106-1591

Dear Senator Miner and Representative Case, The Board of Selectmen of the Town of Winchester would like to request your consideration of an amendment to C.G.S. 10-34.

The Town of Winchester does not maintain a public high school.  The Gilbert School, a private endowment school, serves at the Town of Winchester’s high school as well as for Grades 7-8.  The town of Winchester pays, as tuition, approximately 94% of The Gilbert School yearly operating budget.

The Board of Education of the Town of Winchester and The Gilbert School, in the past, have had difficulty arriving at an agreed tuition.  Current state law provides no mechanism when a stalemate exists in attempting to set a tuition.

The amendment to C.G.S. 10-34 that the Board of Selectmen is proposing, if adopted by the General Assembly, would require mediation and arbitration, when such a stalemate exists.  This proposed amendment, a copy which is attached, is similar to the law for the process used for negotiating teacher salaries.

Please inform the Board of Selectmen what steps you will take to have the General Assembly consider this amendment.  Contact us should you require more information.

Board of Selectmen
Names of all 7 members of the BOS
In addition to the list of the four on the copy notation

“I want it to be more clear that this letter is coming from us and what we are asking for when the General Assembly changes,” Bourque told the board. “That’s why I started the third paragraph with ‘The Board of Education of the Town of Winchester, and The Gilbert School in the past have had difficulty arriving at an agreed tuition. The current laws provide no mechanisms as it currently exists.”
Bourque also asked to strike Town Attorney Kevin Nelligan’s name off of the letter.
“I don’t think we need to put that in there because this is what we’re doing,” Bourque said. “He’s not recommending this and I don’t even want to imply that he has provided us as a proposal, but not as a recommendation. So I thought we should keep his name out of it.”
The board approved Selectmen Bourque’s proposed changes.
After the vote, Mayor Candy Perez said the letter will be sent to the town’s state representatives, and to Gov. Ned Lamont (D) after the election on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
In other business: the board approved a bid waiver for the purchase of a used asphalt paving machine to purchase a used 2004 Lee Boy Paving Machine from American Paving LLC in Kensington.
According to meeting documents, $25,000 for the machine will be taken out of a line item in this fiscal year’s budget.
“Previously we talked about how we’ve done minor paving, which has been very positive for us,” Town Manager Robert Geiger said. “We had subcontracted in the past, but some of the minor jobs we can do ourselves. But we didn’t have a piece of machinery to do it so we shared it with other towns.”
Geiger said that the purchase of the paving machine will allow the town to do more paving.
Towards the end of the meeting, Selectman Melissa Bird reported that the Recreation Department is working on amending two town ordinances that would regulate the hours of the town’s beaches and its parking.
“I think they are dealing with signage and a few other things,” Bird said. “The police were having trouble fining people. The lifeguards, because they are young and there were too many people [at the beaches], they were having trouble controlling people parking and coming on to the beaches for a lot of reasons.”
Bird said that the department would submit its proposed amendments to the ordinances to the board to review at its next scheduled meeting.
The board is scheduled to hold a special meeting on Thursday, Oct 22 that will include an executive session on the search for a new town manager.
Current Town Manager Geiger submitted his resignation in September.
According to Mayor Perez, the board is reviewing approximately 20 candidates.

Article update Oct. 20 8:20 p.m. to include Selectman Bourque’s email.

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