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Should New Britain Residents Vote on an Annual Budget?



Although the City is not considering changing the charter to have residents vote on the budget, other towns such as Berlin do vote on that issue. The City Journal this month asked residents if they would like to vote on approval of the budget. Most residents said “no” for a variety of reasons.

Bill Weber said, “No. It is not working well in Berlin.”

“No that’s why we have a mayor and council that work together,” said Scott Clark. “Berlin is what not to do in their budget process.”

“No. It isn’t broke so do not try to fix it. We have a good system in place,” said Sue Fahey.

“No! Let’s be honest, most of us do not exactly how it works, that’s why we have knowledgeable professionals doing the budget,” said Maria Pietrantuono.

Ann Dilling stated, “No, like everything else it will be political and a mess.”

“No,” said Robert Scalise. “We are too damn cheap to know what’s good for us!”

“No, without having all the information as to what our expenditures actually are vs our city’s needs nobody can make an educated decision on a budget. On top of that, a household budget is a bit different than a city budget by one glaring factor. Thousands and millions are the denominations that are dealt with by city budgets,” said Brian Lundy. “The average person is gonna either wanna go spend happy, or get tight fisted so quick your head will spin. The only thing in a budget planning at all that I think, we the people should vote on, is the politicians salaries.”

“Absolutely not,” said Paula Poplawski . “The turnout in Berlin for a budget vote is poor. Not a true representation of what the town needs.”

A few residents disagreed and said they would like to vote on the budget.

“Yes,” said Sharon Baretta. “I support referendum in all cases, not just for budget.”

“Yes so we would have a bigger say on how our tax money is spent,” said Frank Bradley. “But since we have a much bigger budget it would need more explaining.”

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Geri O’Keefe-Curtis. “New Britain residents should have a say in where the money is spent. Maybe that’s what it would take to keep it in line. Plainville residents vote of their budget also.”

Dave Lazicki added, “YES, But we may never pass a budget!”

Mayor Erin E. Stewart said in order for the City to vote on the budget, a lot of changes would need to occur.

“You would have to change the entire structure of city government in order to do this,” Stewart said. “Which means you would have to change city charter which would have to be voted on by the citizens. That would mean No more mayor, would have to hire city manager or chief operations officer of the city.”

Ald. Daniel Salerno added that, “And I support a city manager form of government. This Mayor, Mayor Erin Stewart is the closest to such management abilities and execution. She has a PA background. Governing is not what it used to be. It is far more complex, why we have representative democracy.”

To vote in our next monthly question, join the New Britain City Journal Facebook group.