Two weeks from receiving Mayor Bill Finch’s proposed spending plan for the budget year that begins July 1, the City Council has been operating for months without long-time Budget and Appropriations Co-Chair Bob Curwen who verbally announced his resignation from the city’s legislative body but had not submitted his official resignation in writing as of late last week. As a result city lawyers are reviewing a course of action the council can take to formally remove Curwen in lieu of a resignation in writing, and fill his vacancy.
Curwen announced his resignation from the council citing family health issues. Curwen had represented the city’s Upper East Side district. The council soon may also be facing another resignation if Marty McCarthy, who represents Black Rock, follows up on his representations to council members that he will be resigning. McCarthy has been largely absent at council meetings the past several months attending to his restaurant business on Fairfield Avenue.
Council members vote to fill vacancies generally on the recommendation of leaders from respective political districts. If and when McCarthy resigns Black Rock District Leader Danny Roach says he will recommend Steven Stafstrom, an attorney with the law firm Pullman & Comley, fill the vacancy. Steven Stafstrom is the nephew of former Democratic Town Chairman John Stafstrom, also an attorney with the law firm.
Serving as co-chair of the budget committee becomes labor intensive this time of year as the council reviews the mayor’s proposed budget, interviews various department heads, votes on the budget and sets a mil rate in June. In Curwen’s absence East Side councilman Angel DePara, the other budget co-chair, has absorbed the lion’s share of the responsibility.
Finch will deliver his annual address to the business community Tuesday at noon at the Holiday Inn. The mayor often uses this speech to provide a glimpse into the budget he’ll submit to the council. The mayor has said he will submit multiple budget scenarios to the council because city spending is at the mercy of the state legislative budget process underway in Hartford.
Bob Walsh, a frequent Finch critic when he served on the City Council, claims the mayor can only submit one budget proposal to the council. Statement from Walsh:
I realize that some people may think of this as a technicality but the mayor can only submit one budget to the council for its approval. Since the Charter requires that the city adopt by default the mayor’s recommended budget if the council fails to act he cannot have three budgets before the council.
Would the mayor then pick or choose which of his recommended budgets to adopt?
Imagine a dishonest mayor instead of an incompetent one, who could (based on this precedent) submit 5 recommended budgets and the council could go ahead and make all of their proposed changes to one budget which the mayor then withdraws at the 11th hour.
Or would the city attorney suggest that they would have to make changes to all five and if they do not reconcile, then the mayor could select one and blame the council for their incompetency?
It is all a PR piece and there will be one budget that the mayor submits that will be based on totally unrealistic revenue projections from the state but will show a cut in the mil rate and the mayor gets to blame the state (or the council for that matter) for the tax increase since he will say he submitted a budget with a decrease.
City Council Monday agenda here.