[HISTORY: Approved 11-4-1958, amended 11-8-1960. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
It is the purpose of this Charter to provide the Town of Branford with a modern, workable form of government, recognizing that the public Town Meeting has largely become ineffective because of increasing population and the complexity of governmental problems. As a first provision of this Charter, a Representative Town Meeting form of government, hereinafter referred to as R.T.M., is hereby instituted.
The town, after the effective date of this Charter and the first election of Town Meeting members hereunder, shall act through and be bound by its R.T.M. members when acting in meeting assembled which, when convened from time to time as herein provided, constitute Town Meetings, and such Representative Town Meetings shall exercise exclusively, so far as it shall conform to the provisions of this Charter, all powers vested in Town Meetings except as is otherwise specifically provided for in this Charter. Action in conformity with all the provisions of law now or hereafter applicable to the transaction of town affairs in meeting, when taken by the R.T.M. as so constituted, shall have the same force and effect as if such action had been taken in a Town Meeting open to all of the voters of the town as heretofore organized and conducted, except as specifically provided in this Charter.
Such legislative power shall include the authority:
To create permanent and temporary committees for such purposes as such R.T.M. may decide.
To adjourn such Representative Town Meetings from time to time as such need may appear.
To designate the time, place, and date of meetings.
To establish a schedule of regular Representative Town Meetings insofar as such need may appear.
To establish rules and regulations for the conduct of committees as shall from time to time appear necessary and proper.
The R.T.M. shall have the power to decrease, increase or add items to the budget, but in no case shall the total amount of the budget exceed the total amount recommended by the Board of Finance. If no change is made by such Town Meeting in any of such recommendations of said Board of Finance, the appropriation for expenditures of the town so recommended in such list of said Board shall thereupon become the specific appropriations for expenditures for the fiscal year beginning on the following July 1, and, if any change is made by such Town Meeting in any such recommendation of said Board of Finance, the appropriations for expenditures of the town as so recommended and as so altered shall thereupon become the specific appropriation for expenditures for such fiscal year. The Board of Selectmen, the Board of Education and each officer, board and department of said town shall not incur, and the town in any special Representative Town Meeting shall not vote to incur any liability or expense by contract or otherwise for which said town shall be responsible in excess of the specific appropriations as so determined.
The provisions of Subdivision f of this subsection shall not be construed to prevent the R.T.M. from making further appropriations upon the recommendation of the Board of Finance at a special Representative Town Meeting held after the annual budget meeting and prior to the laying of the tax for the ensuing fiscal year, and any appropriations made at such special R.T.M. shall be included in the amount to be raised by the tax to be laid by the Board of Finance under the provisions of law.
The annual budget meeting of the R.T.M. may adjourn from time to time, provided action shall be taken on the adoption of the appropriations recommended by the Board of Finance before the Friday following the second Tuesday of May. Thereafter, but no later than June 1, the Board of Finance shall determine the rate of taxation for the Town of Branford for the ensuing fiscal year, based upon the appropriations adopted by the R.T.M. and the completed taxable grand list. Anything in this subsection to the contrary notwithstanding, pending the adoption of the appropriations for the ensuing fiscal year by the annual budget meeting of the R.T.M., the current operating expenses of the Board of Education from the following July 1 and the current operating expenses of all other departments of the town from the following July 1, may be paid, provided an appropriation for such expenses shall have been recommended in the budget report submitted by the Board of Finance to said R.T.M. and filed in the office of the Town Clerk.
Membership. The Town Meeting membership shall be composed of thirty voting members.
Apportionment of membership. The above members will be apportioned insofar as is practicable among the several districts in proportion to the number of electors registered in each of said districts as certified by the registrars of voters according to the last completed registry list. It shall be the duty of the Town Clerk to make such apportionment under the provisions of this Charter.
Officers. The members shall elect from their number a Moderator and a Clerk, no more than one of whom shall be of the same political party. The Moderator shall not vote except to break a tie. The Clerk of R.T.M. shall have full voting rights. The Moderator may be removed and replaced at any time by a two-thirds vote of the entire membership.
Ex officio members. The following shall be designated as Town Meeting members, ex officio: the Board of Selectmen, the Town Clerk, the Town Counsel and the Town Treasurer. Ex officio Town Meeting members shall have all the rights and privileges of the members elected under this Charter, except the right to vote.
Tenure of office. The members from each district so elected shall hold office for two years or until their successors are elected and have qualified. Thereafter, at each biennial election of town officers, the electors in each district shall, in like manner, elect as Town Meeting members from such district the number of Town Meeting members to which such district is entitled, who shall hold office for two years and until their successors are elected and have qualified.
Compensation. The R.T.M. members as such shall receive no compensation.
Qualification. The R.T.M. shall be the judge of the election and qualification of its members.
Election by voting districts.
The voting districts of the town for the election of Town Meeting members shall be as now established or as may be hereafter established by ordinance. Meetings of electors of the several districts so established for election of town officers and Town Meeting members, and for voting upon any question to be submitted to all the electors of the town, shall be held on the same day and at the same hours and at such place or places within the district as the Selectmen shall, in the call for such meetings, direct. Notice of such meetings shall be given as prescribed by the general statutes with respect to warning of Town Meetings for the election of officers. The registrars of voters shall certify to the Town Clerk, not less than seventy days before an election of Town Meeting members, the number of electors registered in each district according to the last-completed registry list and such certification shall be the basis for determining the number of Town Meeting members which each of the several districts shall be entitled to elect at such election.
The nomination and election of candidates as members of the R.T.M. shall be in the same manner as provided for the nomination and election of the town officers by the General Statutes so far as they are not superseded by this Charter.
No political party shall nominate more candidates for each district than two-thirds of the members to which such district may be entitled, such candidates to be resident electors of the district for which they have been nominated, provided, in the event that the number of members to which a district may be entitled is not divisible by three, each political party may nominate the next highest whole number in excess of such two-thirds.
Petition candidates. Nomination of a candidate for a Town Meeting member may also be made by petition signed in ink on forms approved and provided by the Town Clerk, said petition to be in accordance with Public Act 410 of the January 1957 Session of the General Assembly, as amended, and shall be filed with the Town Clerk not less than forty-five days prior to the election. No petition shall be valid in respect to any candidate whose written acceptance is not thereon or attached thereto when filed, nor shall a signature be valid if such signature appearing thereon shall have appeared on other petitions on file with the Town Clerk for more than the number of candidates which a political party may nominate under this Charter for the district wherein such signer shall reside. A petition may contain more than one name but not more names than the number of candidates which a political party may nominate under this Charter for the same district at the forthcoming election.
Method of election.
The Town Clerk shall, at least twenty-one days before the time of holding the election, at which the nominees are to be voted for, certify and transmit the names of the candidates nominated in accordance with this Charter to the Secretary of the state, and shall prepare separate sample ballot labels for each district for such election of R.T.M. members;
The ballot labels containing the names of the political parties shall be arranged on the voting machine in column form in the order provided by law. The ballot label for candidates nominated by petition shall be identified as such by the words "Petition Candidates'" and shall be arranged on the voting machine following the political party labels;
The ballot labels shall contain the names of the candidates arranged thereon alphabetically and in horizontal rows on separate ballot labels for each political party and petition candidates with the name of the office designated on such labels by the words "Representative Town Meeting Member". The ballot label shall be printed in such manner as to indicate that the voter may not vote for more than such number as he may be entitled to vote for;
At each biennial election for the election of town officers and Town Meeting members, held after the adoption of this Charter, voting thereat shall be governed by the provisions of the general statutes as to voting and voting machines, except as modified by this Charter;
No elector shall vote for more than two-thirds of the R.T.M. members to be elected in the district wherein such elector resides, provided, where the number of members to which a district may be entitled is not divisible by three, each elector may vote for the next highest whole number in excess of such two-thirds;
That number of candidates in each district sufficient to fill the number of R.T.M. members to which a district may be entitled, who have polled the highest number of votes, shall be declared elected.
The Chief Presiding Officer shall, forthwith, after a biennial election of R.T.M. members, file in the Town Clerk's office a list of the members elected by the districts, together with their respective addresses. The Town Clerk shall, upon receipt of such lists, forthwith notify each member by mail of his election.
Tie votes. In case of a tie vote under any section of this Charter affecting the election of R.T.M. members, the Chief Presiding Officer shall, immediately after the election, notify the Town Clerk and the Registrar of voters of any such tie vote, giving the names and addresses of such candidates affected, and shall also simultaneously notify the tied candidates so affected. The Town Clerk shall, within two weeks of such notification by the Chief Presiding Officer, cause a drawing to be held in the office of the Town Clerk, such drawing to be by lot in the presence of at least three disinterested witnesses. The member or members so chosen shall thereupon be deemed elected and qualified as an R.T.M. member or members, subject to the right of the town meeting to judge of the election and qualification of members as set forth in Section 3 of this Charter.
Vacancies. Any vacancy in the membership of the R.T.M. from any district, whether arising from a failure of the electors thereof to elect or from any other cause, shall be filled by the remaining members of said district from among the electors thereof. Upon petition therefor, signed by either the Moderator or the Clerk, notice of any vacancy shall promptly be given by the Town Clerk to the remaining members from the district in which the vacancy or vacancies exist, and he shall call a special meeting of such members for the purpose of filling such vacancy. He shall cause to be mailed to each such member, not less than five days before the time set for the meeting, a notice specifying the object, time and place of the meeting. At such meeting, a majority of the members from such district shall constitute a quorum, and they shall elect from their number a Chairman and a Clerk whose right to vote at such meeting shall not be affected by their election to their respective offices. The election to fill any vacancy shall be by ballot, and a majority of the votes cast shall be required for a choice, provided, whenever such vacancy shall exist in the office of a person who had been elected to membership as a candidate of a political party, such vacancy shall be filled by the election of a member of the same political party. Whenever such vacancy shall exist in the office of a person who had been elected to membership as a petition candidate, such vacancy shall be filled by the election of an elector unaffiliated with any political party. The Chairman and Clerk shall count the ballots and shall make a certificate of the result and forthwith file the same with the Town Clerk, together with a written acceptance by the member or members so chosen, who shall thereupon be deemed elected and qualified as an R.T.M. member or members, subject to the right of the R.T.M. to judge the election and qualifications of the members as set forth in Section 3 of this Charter. If such vacancy is not so filled by the members within thirty days, the Board of Selectmen shall fill the same provided, whenever such vacancy shall exist in the office of a person who had been elected to membership as a member of a political party, the person so named by the Board of Selectmen to fill such vacancy shall be a member of the same political party.
Resignation. A Town Meeting member may resign by filling a written resignation with the Town Clerk, and such resignation shall take effect on the date of such filing. An R.T.M. member who shall move from the town shall thereupon cease to be an R.T.M. member, but an R.T.M. member who shall move from the district from which he was elected may serve until the next meeting for the election of R.T.M. members.
Diversity of interest. No person holding any salaried or elective office, nor any member of any appointive board in the government of the state or the Town of Branford nor any employee of said state or town shall be eligible for election as a member of the R.T.M.; and no member of the R.T.M., except an ex officio member thereof, shall hold any such salaried, appointed or elected office or position of employment.
Biennial meetings. The R.T.M. shall hold a biennial meeting two (2) weeks following the date of the election of its members. Such meeting shall be the organizational meeting of the R.T.M. The First Selectman shall act as Chairman, ex officio, of said meeting until the Moderator is elected and the Town Clerk shall act as Clerk Pro Tempore until the Clerk is elected and has qualified.
Annual budget meeting. The annual budget meeting of the R.T.M. shall be held on the second Tuesday of May at 8 o'clock P.M. Such meeting shall be held at some suitable place designated by the R.T.M. The first such meeting to be held in May, 1961.
Call for meetings. The Moderator and, in his absence or inability, the Town Clerk shall call a special R.T.M. meeting upon the application of twenty electors or twenty persons who, except for the provisions of this Charter, would be qualified to vote in Town Meeting, said special Town Meeting shall be held within ten days after receiving such application. Said application to contain a statement of the matter on which action is desired and shall contain the names and street addresses of the signers thereof. The Moderator, Selectmen or ten members of the R.T.M. may call a special meeting at any time. The Town Clerk shall notify all R.T.M. members by mail of the time and place at which each R.T.M. is to be held, at least five days before such meeting, and a copy of such notice shall be published in a newspaper having a circulation in the town, at least five days before such meeting. Such notice shall specify the object for which the meeting is to be held.
Quorum. A majority of the R.T.M. shall constitute a quorum for doing business, provided a smaller number may organize temporarily in order to adjourn from time to time, but no R.T.M. may adjourn over the date of an election of R.T.M. members. All R.T.M. meetings shall be public. At any R.T.M. providing a quorum is present any vote decided by a majority of those present and voting shall be binding.
Elector's rights. Subject to such conditions, rules and regulations as may be established from time to time by the members of the R.T.M. any elector of the town or persons who, except for the provisions of this Charter, would be qualified to vote in Town Meeting may speak at any R.T.M., but shall not vote but any elector may present at any such meeting a written request that voting on any question properly before such Meeting be taken by roll call, and, if such request is supported by ten percent of the Town Meeting members in attendance at such meeting, the vote of the R.T.M. members upon any such question shall be taken by roll call and a record of such vote shall be made by the Clerk.
Absences. In the event that an R.T.M. member misses three consecutive meetings, he shall be dropped from the R.T.M.. and a vacancy shall exist.
The Town Clerk shall cause any action of an R.T.M. adopting, amending or repealing an ordinance to be published within one week after the adjournment of such meeting in a newspaper having a circulation in such town. The publication of a brief statement of the subject matter of such action and the title, if any, of the same shall be sufficient. No such action or ordinance, shall be effective until fifteen days after such publication, or, if within that time a petition for referendum has been filed as hereinafter provided, then unless and until such action or ordinance shall be approved by such referendum in the manner hereinafter provided.
Any vote passed at an R.T.M. authorizing the expenditure for any specific single purpose of fifty thousand dollars or more, or the issue of any bonds by the town, shall not be effective until the expiration of fifteen days after the adjournment of such meeting, or if within that time a petition for referendum has been filed as hereinafter provided, then unless and until such vote shall be approved by such referendum in the manner hereinafter provided.
If, at any time before the effective date of any ordinance or amendment thereof, or of any other action or vote described in Section 6 or 7 hereof, a petition, signed by not less than three percent of the electors of each voting district of the town or five percent of the electors of the town at large, containing their names and addresses as they appear on the last-completed registry list, shall be filed with the Selectmen asking that such ordinance, amendment or other action or vote be referred to a vote of the electors of the town, the Selectmen shall forthwith call a special meeting of all such electors, to be held within ten days after receipt of such petition, for the sole purpose of voting approval or disapproval of such ordinance or amendment or of changing the amount of an appropriation or an item thereof in the manner hereinafter provided. At any such special meeting, the polls shall be opened at two o'clock in the afternoon and shall be closed at eight o'clock in the evening, but the hours for voting may be increased at the discretion of the Board of Selectmen. Voting at such meeting shall be by voting machine or printed ballot, at the discretion of the Board of Selectmen. Except as hereinafter provided with respect to referendum affecting town appropriations, the ballot labels or ballots used in such special elections shall state separately each matter to be voted on in substantially the following form; "Shall the following action of a Town Meeting held on (date of the meeting) be approved?" followed by a statement of the action referred to in substantially the same language and form in which the same is set forth in the records of such R.T.M., and the voting machine or printed ballot shall provide means of voting "yes" or "no" on each question so presented. All petitions for referendum on any action of an R.T.M. with respect to any appropriation in the amount required for a referendum under section seven hereof shall set forth each item as to which a vote is desired, with the amount of the item as approved by the R.T.M., and the amount to which the petitioners desire it to be decreased Ballot labels or ballots used for such referendum shall present separately each appropriation so referred, in substantially the following form: "Shall an appropriation approved by the R.T.M. in the sum of $…… for (here the purpose of the appropriation shall be stated be approved", and the voting machine or printed ballot shall provide means of voting "yes" or "no" on each such question so presented. The annual appropriations fixed by the Town Meeting shall be the appropriations for the ensuing year except that any item therein referred to a referendum of the electors as aforesaid, and modified by vote of such referendum of the electors, shall be amended to accord with such vote. In the event a referendum affecting any annual appropriation shall be exercised subsequent to the time fixed by law for laying the town tax, the time within which the town shall lay the town tax for the year following such appropriation as required by law, shall be extended to five days after such referendum vote.
All questions submitted to referendum vote of the electors as hereinbefore provided shall be decided by majority vote of the electors voting thereon, provided no action of an R.T.M. shall be reversed or modified unless the majority vote to so reverse or modify shall exceed in number fifteen percent of the total number of the electors of the town.
All ordinance and R.T.M. votes shall be recorded by the Town Clerk in books kept by him for that purpose. Nothing in this Charter shall be construed to affect the power and authority of the town, by its proper officers and agents, to continue and to complete any improvements heretofore authorized or instituted, pursuant to a vote of any Town Meeting called and held prior to the effective date of this Charter, or pursuant to the authority contained in any special act applicable to said town, nor shall this Charter be construed as affecting the issuance or validity of bonds heretofore authorized by the town. All general laws or special acts applicable to the town, and all ordinances of the town, shall continue in force and effect, except as same are inconsistent with the provisions of this Charter and to the extent of such inconsistency they are repealed.
The First Selectman shall continue to be the Chief Administrative Officer of the town, and all boards, commissions, officers, and agencies established by general statute or special act and charged with the administration of the affairs of the town shall continue as now established, unless inconsistent with the provisions of this Charter hereinbefore set forth, and all such powers, functions and duties so conferred are hereby incorporated by reference into this Charter and are made a part hereof.
There shall be in the Town of Branford a Board of Finance consisting of six electors of said town who shall hold no other office in said town government and who shall be taxpayers in said town. No more than three members of the six-member Board shall be appointed from the same political party. The members of the Board shall be sworn to the faithful performance of their duties, and no member shall receive compensation for his services, but the necessary expenses of the Board shall be paid by the town.
The present members of the Board of Finance shall hold office during the respective terms for which they were appointed, and in July 1992 and in each successive July thereafter, the Selectmen shall appoint two (2) members of said Board for a term of three years from the first day of August next succeeding. In case of a vacancy in said Board the Selectmen shall forthwith appoint a successor for the remainder of the term. The members of said Board shall hold office during the time for which they are appointed and until their successors are appointed and have qualified.
The First Selectman of the town shall be an ex officio member of said Board, but shall have no vote except in the case of tie. Such Board shall choose one of its members to be Chairman thereof. The Town Clerk shall be Clerk of the Board and shall receive such compensation for his services as may be determined by vote of the Board. Said Clerk shall be sworn to the faithful performance of his duties, shall keep a record of all meeting of said Board, shall attend the annual budget meeting of the Representative Town Meeting and keep a record of all votes passed and shall report to the Selectmen and Town Treasurer all appropriations and transfers made in accordance with this Charter.
The Board may hold such regular and special meetings as may be advisable in accordance with state statutes providing for public notice. The Clerk of the Board shall issue a call for a special meeting either at the direction of the Chairman of the Board or upon written request of any two members thereof.
Not less than two weeks before the annual budget meeting of the Representative Town Meeting, said Board shall hold a public hearing, which may adjourn from time to time, at which itemized estimates of the expenditures of the town for the ensuing fiscal year shall be presented, and shall give notice to each board or department of the town of the time and place of meeting to consider the needs of such board or department. After such public hearing, the Board shall hold a public session, at which it shall consider the estimates so presented and any other matter brought to its attention, and shall thereupon prepare an estimate and recommendation of the amount of money necessary to be appropriated for the expenses of the town for the ensuring fiscal year. Such estimate shall include the amount of revenue to be received during the ensuing year from all sources except from taxes to be raised on the grand list and shall contain an itemized list of the debts and obligations of the town. Such estimate, with the recommendation of the Finance Board, shall be submitted to the Representative Town Meeting for appropriate action in accordance with this Charter. The Board shall set the tax rate in accordance with Section 2f4 of this Charter.
If the electors of such town shall, at a legal meeting held for such purpose, vote to issue or authorize the issue of bonds, the interest on such bonds and an appropriation for a sinking fund sufficient to pay the same at maturity shall be included in the budget as a fixed charge.
The Board of Finance shall have the authority to recommend to the Representative Town Meeting the transfer of any unexpended balance from one appropriation to the other. No recommended transfer by the Board of Finance shall be effective unless approved by the Representative Town Meeting.
If a special appropriation is required for any purpose, an estimate of the same shall be prepared and submitted to said Board of Finance at a special meeting called for that purpose, and said Board at such meeting, or any adjournment thereof, shall have power to make any such appropriation and to lay a special tax to meet the same; but no such appropriation shall be made unless a special tax is laid sufficient to cover the amount when such appropriation is in excess of the unappropriated revenue of said town. Such appropriations and the rate of taxation so recommended by the Board of Finance shall be submitted to the Representative Town Meeting at a meeting called for that purpose, and said Representative Town Meeting shall have the power to decrease the appropriation of any item thereof, or the rate of taxation recommended by said Board of Finance, or said Representative Town Meeting may vote not to make such appropriation or levy such tax, but in no case shall any Representative Town Meeting have power to increase any special appropriation or any rate of taxation recommended by said Board of Finance. The provision of this section shall not be construed as applying to any appropriation or expenditure which is to be met by the proceeds of a bond or note issue, and which shall have been recommended by said Board of Finance and authorized in accordance with law.
Except as otherwise provided by law, no officer of the town shall draw any order upon the Treasurer unless there shall have been appropriated sufficient money for the object for which such order is drawn, and each order shall designate the object for which and the account upon which it is drawn. The Town Treasurer, unless otherwise provided by law, shall not pay any order unless there shall have been sufficient funds appropriated for such object.
The Board of Finance of the Town of Branford shall have charge of the investment and control of all sinking funds, amortization funds, deposit funds and all other trust funds which shall have been placed in the hands of the Town of Branford for some special purpose. Said Board or its designee shall keep all necessary books and records, which shall be open, during business hours, to the inspection of the Selectmen and Town Treasurer. The Town Treasurer shall have the custody of all cash, stocks, bonds and other property belonging to any such funds and shall keep said funds separate and distinct from all other funds and property of the Town of Branford and shall only invest or dispose of said funds or any part thereof upon the written order of said Board. A special report of the condition and investment of each of said funds shall be made and published in the annual report of the Town of Branford.
Any officer of said town who shall violate any provision of Section 11j of this Charter shall be subject to the penalties provided in C.G.S. § 7-349.
This charter is to take effect December 12, 1991.