The Southington Town Council approved an anti-toll resolution in a 6-0-3 split vote, with all of the Republican members voting to approve it, and all of the Democratic members abstaining.
Councilor Tom Lombardi (R) introduced the resolution.
“Over the last few months of campaigning and knocking on doors, this was still the number one issue with local residents. People say it’s not a town issue, but it is,” said Lombardi. “It impacts every resident in the state of Connecticut.”
Lombardi said anti-toll resolutions around the state “are being recognized by state leaders,” and residents’ concerns are being heard through those resolutions.
The resolution stated tolls are a financial burden to residents and businesses of Southington. It also stated the implementation of tolls could result in an increase in traffic on secondary roads in Southington with drivers trying to avoid the tolls, thereby creating increased costs of road maintenance along with safety concerns.
The resolution was first brought forth back in March of this year by the Republican caucus when they were in the minority. When it came time to vote, it failed, 5-4, along party lines. Democrats felt the topic was a state issue rather than a local town issue, and voiced the same concern at the November meeting as they did in March.
At the Nov. 25 meeting, Democratic councilor Chris Poulos said his vote against the resolution was not a symbol of approval of tolls.
“No Democrat elected to this council has ever favored tolls,” he said. “I think we need to set the record straight. This is a matter of the state legislature over which this board does not have any jurisdiction nor purview.”
Minority leader Chris Palmieri, who was chair of the council back in March when the resolution was first introduced, echoed Poulos’ statements.
“It’s not a town council issue,” said Palmieri. “I never once said I favored tolls. I don’t have enough information to make that decision.”
Palmieri said the conversation regarding tolls in Connecticut has evolved since March when the council first discussed the possibility of adopting the anti-toll resolution. The state legislature continues to discuss the different locations of potential tolls, the possibility of tolling only tractor trailers, and several other factors. He said the state representatives are the people responsible to have those conversations, not a local town council.
Republican councilors defended the resolution, saying it was the best way to communicate to the governor and to the legislature that Southington residents are against tolls.
“One of the ways that we as a council speak on behalf of our residents is to do things like this so that we can provide a resolution to the governor,” said Paul Chaplinsky Jr. (R) “They will get this and hear that the people of Southington feel as though this is a detriment to the folks who live in Southington and in Connecticut. I feel this is appropriate.”
Mike Del Santo (R) agreed with Chaplinsky.
“There are folks standing on the corners with signs opposing tolls,” said Del Santo. “The governor’s not going to see them, but he will see this resolution.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.