BRISTOL - The cityâ€™s ordinance committee decided to give a proposal to expand the Bristol Development Authority further review.
The committee, on Feb. 21, decided not to refer to the City Council an amendment to an ordinance that would add two council members to the authority.
The committee opted to further review the plan after concerns about it were raised.
The intent of the amendment is to have the entire city represented on the development authority, said Democratic City Councilor and Committee Chairman Dave Preleski.
Under the proposed amendment, a city councilor from each of the three council districts would serve on the authority, increasing the number of members from nine to 11, Preleski explained.
The current city ordinance states that the mayor appoints one city councilor of a different political party to the authority, Preleski said.
In the meeting Republican City Councilor and committee member Dave Mills said, â€śI have no problem with the language, I just donâ€™t know if I agree with the justification for making the change at all.â€ť
Mills added he hasnâ€™t noticed any politics in the development authority, its decisions, or its members since he joined in November 2017.
Democratic City Councilor and committee member Josh Medeiros added, â€śThe (authorityâ€™s) emphasis is not only on downtown development, but development across the city, so to me, I donâ€™t see a downside to adding more professionals into the equation.â€ť
In a public hearing before the meeting, a letter from Republican chairwoman of the Board of Finance and Bristol resident Cheryl Thibeault was read. It raised a concern that the amendment would impact minority representation on the authority.
â€śIt is the councilâ€™s intent to increase the overall number of authority members by elected council to the authority, whereas five out of six members are from the same party,â€ť Thibeault wrote.
â€śWill the ordinance committee and council need to reconsider in the event that next election again completely changes the complexity of party representation?â€ť Thibeault added. â€śIt almost seems like we want to add more members to ensure a winning vote versus convincing those already serving on a project that it is the right thing to do.â€ť
The proposed amendment was not politically motivated, Preleski said. It would not allow more than six members of the same political party to serve on the authority, just as the current ordinance states, he said.
It would also require at least one city councilor to be of a different political party than the mayor, unless all councilors and the mayor have the same party affiliation, which is also outlined in the current ordinance, Preleski added.
â€śThe language of the proposed amendment doesnâ€™t change the current ordinance that says there has to be minority representation,â€ť Preleski said.
No members of the public were present at a second public hearing held by the committee regarding another section of the code of ordinances pertaining to the waiver of property tax $1 or less. That new ordinance language was referred to the City Council.
Lorenzo Burgio can be reached at 860-801-5088 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.