Special Projects Officer’s Role Examined

A report on the role and productivity of the town's special projects officer was delivered April 10, but the issue will not drop off the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) agenda anytime soon.

At the April 10 RTM meeting, RTM member and Democratic Majority Leader David Baker (D-2) delivered the four-page report compiled by Terry Elton on the position Elton holds for the town. The report was generated in response to a request initiated some time ago in a letter asking the RTM about what the job position does for the town and submitted by citizen Wayne Cooke.

Upon delivering the report on April 10, Baker's next request was to take the item off the agenda-but 10 members of the RTM Republican side did not agree with Baker. Adding to their votes against removing it from the agenda were two Democratic RTM members' votes, made by Clare Torelli (D-1) and Maryanne Hall (D-5). As a result, the RTM voted 12 to 10 (with one abstention) to keep the item on the agenda.

Among many details, the report includes information on Elton's work as point of contact for the town's business development efforts as well as his grant writing and funding efforts for the town. Listed under grants and funding are notations including a $72 million federal stimulus grant for the Route 1 Amtrak Bridge project, $400,000 in EPA remediation funds for the Atlantic Wire property, several Connecticut Small Town Economic Assistance Grants totaling $550,000; and DEEP Open Space acquisition grants equaling $900,000.

As for the decision to keep the item on the agenda despite having supplied a report, Baker said he was "surprised" by the vote, because "I believe?some of these items are witch hunts," said Baker, adding, "We all know that's true."

Representative Peter Black (R-3) disagreed and also said he felt Elton had "quite simply...justified his existence. He's done that; it's good.

"Some of these things are nebulous, [but] when we have a position that's a highly paid position, when we're approving roughly $100,000 (with benefits) or more, we ought to know what the job description is," said Black. "I don't think it's a waste for us to understand where the taxpayers' money is going."

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