We need alternates for City Council

93

Yet again the people of Westbrook aren’t being fully represented in votes by the City Council. A recent meeting school impact fees failed by a 3-3 tie vote. Absent was councilor Gary Rairdon, who in the past had voted for the fees. The sewer impact fee also failed 1-5, with councilor John O’Hara in favor.

What’s the point of passing the general impact fee if schools and sewer, which have a high financial burden on taxes for residents, aren’t included to offset these costs by residential and commercial development?

I disagree that by implementing these fees it would discourage future economic development. Rather, it will provide and support the necessary amenities the community needs, homeowners expect, and developers’ investments desire, therefore attracting more families and businesses to Westbrook.

It’s time to review the city charter or bylaws to amend and support two “alternate” council positions when the sitting councilors are absent for votes. During the meetings for the Blue Spruce development, I was disappointed when President Brendan Rielly recused himself due to possible conflict of interest during these very important votes. While I understand why he did, it seems foresight of such a conflict could have been avoided by many parties involved,  especially given the magnitude of the public response to this large project and the precedence it set for future development.

Often the outcome of ordinances for the Blue Spruce development hinged on a single vote to approve or deny. This lost vote has ramifications for years to come to our community. Without the councilors in full attendance during a vote or not allowing an “absentee vote,” such as those used for elections, their constituents are not being fully represented. At the very least

No vote should be taken by any board without full attendance or absentee ballots by those elected representatives.

Patricia Youland

Westbrook