Republican Mayor Erin Stewart has vetoed a resolution approved by the City Council to institute a hiring freeze all city positions except for public safety and temporary seasonal parks and recreation positions.
The resolution had been introduced by all nine Council Democrats and all five Council Council Republicans in attendance voted against the hiring freeze.
With the exception of police, fire, emergency dispatch and seasonal temporary parks and recreation positions, the resolution resolved that, “Common Council of the City of New Britain impose an immediate hiring freeze and promotion freeze on all positions in the City,” adding that, “no personnel position that becomes vacant shall be replaced, except with the prior approval of the Common Council.”
Stewart’s reason for vetoing the resolution hinged on the argument, also made by Republicans at the April 25, 2018 City Council meeting, that the City Charter does not allow the Council to approve a legislation concerning hiring and promotional decisions. Stewart also called it, “disturbing,” that the Council voted to approved the legislation against the advice of City Corporation Counsel Gennaro Bizzarro, who an appointee of Stewart.
“With certain exceptions, not applicable here,” Stewart said in her veto message, “the Council has no express or implied authority in the City Charter to involve itself in either hiring or promotional decisions, nor does it have the right to fabricate such authority where none exists.”
But Ald. Richard Reyes (D-AL) took exception to Stewart’s action. “The council majority voted to freeze spending because we are concerned of the addiction of borrowing and spending that the Stewart administration and past council cannot shake off. This freeze was meant to be until July 1 when the new fiscal year kicks in.”
Ald. Aram Ayalon (D-3) added, “We made our point about the budget situation in New Britain. By vetoing it the mayor wants to continue her irresponsible hiring accompanied with borrow and spend policies. All this is done while under-funding our schools and under-investing in our most needed neighborhoods like the North-Oak area.”
The annual city budget proposed by Stewart has been criticized for increasing property taxes despite her claim of “no tax increase”, as well as for freezing the city’s annual education allocation and continuing to rely on increased city debt to balance the annual budget.
The City Charter gives the Council general power, “to enact Ordinances in the manner provided in this Charter not inconsistent with law, or this Charter, for the government of the City and the management of its business, for the preservation of good order, peace and health, for the welfare and safety of its inhabitants and the protection and security of their property.” The charter also says that the Council, “is authorized and empowered, by Ordinance or resolution, to regulate, amplify and define the corporate powers.”
“The mayor’s veto is about a demonstration of power, not a demonstration of the best interest of the monies of the city, which belongs to tax payers,” said Ald. Reyes.