By SHERIDAN CYR
Democratic councilor John Barry nominated Chris Palmieri as chair, and the top vote getter was unanimously named as the new council chair. On Monday, Nov. 13, the Democrats took control of the council with Palmieri as the new leader.
Palmieri served the last six years as minority leader. Barry said he has served on the Water Commission, Farm Heritage Committee, Sewer Committee, Public Works and Ordinance Review.
Palmieri was also vice chair of the public building committees of Kennedy and DePaolo Middle School projects and served as a past chair of the Apple Harvest Festival Committee. He is currently a board president for The STEPS coalition, and an assistant principal at DePaolo.
“We all share a similar desire to do what is in the best interest in our community,” said Palmieri. He noted the diverse background of the council: an administrator, legislative aide, communications director, teacher, security director, reverend, attorney, accountant, and real estate investor.
“The synergy of the experience and knowledge is what will help us live up the reputation as truly ‘the city of progress,’” said Palmieri.
He listed four focus points for the next two years: town infrastructure improvements, navigating through current and future state budgets, expanding tax base through economic development, and revisiting senior property tax assistance.
Palmieri also said he would reestablish a former committee, the committee of the chairs, in which he as would meet monthly with the chairs of the Board of Education, Board of Finance and Planning and Zoning Commission along with the Town Manager and Superintendent.
“Communication and collaboration are extremely important to me, and they are issues we heard repeatedly during our campaigning,” said Palmieri. He committed to meeting with the minority leader prior to each Town Council meeting.
To keep the public informed, Palmieri also said he would work with Dawn Miceli to restore “community chats,” a public opportunity to meet informally with council members to hear about or address issues or concerns. He is also working on a Town Council Facebook page.
The following unanimous votes by the council placed Miceli as vice chair, Victoria Triano as minority leader, and Mark Sciota as Town Attorney. Sciota will serve that role until around mid-December, when he will succeed Garry Brumback as Southington’s third Town Manager.
Palmieri said committees will be named at the next meeting.
The council took action on a number of items beginning with a unanimous approval of the Board of Finance report and the approval of tax refunds.
In addition, all three bids for Calendar House furniture, furnishing and equipment passed unanimously.
Action on scheduled public hearing for preferred bidder ordinance unanimously passed, and the meeting is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 27, at 7 p.m., in the council chambers at the municipal center.
Brumback explained that in the past it has been traditional to accept all bids for snow removal. The closed bidding on Oct. 23, and the bids consisted of a wide range of prices for various types of equipment. Brumback said that the town would use the most “economically reasonable” bids first.
Sciota added that there would need to be a major storm before they use the more expensive bidders.
Barry questioned if a Southington business would get preference over an out-of-town bidder even if they are more expensive, to which Brumback said no. Miceli shared Barry’s concern. Sciota suggested the council authorize him and town engineer Annette Turnquist to review the bids and give the Southington companies an option to go down in cost, since it is just a couple of the bidders.
Riccio argued that the council’s responsibility is to the taxpayers, not just to the Southington businesses. “We’re playing around with taxpayer money here to potentially be losing bidders,” he said, “because every time they bid in Southington and they’re not residents, they get bumped out and over time their prices start to float up.”
After some back and forth discussion chair Palmieri said the discussion should be had during the Nov. 27 public hearing. The motion to accept the bids passed, 8-1, with Riccio casting the dissenting votes.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.