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Our current style of government and the processes we use are far too antiquated and rigid in their approach, which ultimately adds unnecessary cost to the City of West Haven taxpayers.

Our Commission has evaluated where we are, as well as where we have been, and used that evidence to provide the tools required to facilitate a transformation in our current approach to governing. The flexibility we attempted to build into the Proposed City Charter will allow the next generation of leaders to innovate, consolidate, and streamline city services.

The Complete Charter Revision process, timing, actions, content, etc., is controlled by the Connecticut General Assembly Publication, Chapter-99 (Municipal Charters and Special Acts) https://www.cga.ct.gov/current/pub/chap_099.htm

  • City Council Created Charter Revision Commission (CRC)

Charter Revision Commission Actions

  • Held Public Meeting #1
  • Deliberated changes
  • Created Draft Report
  • Held Public Meeting #2
  • Submitted Draft Report to City Council
  • City Council – Held Public Meeting #3
  • City Council – Deliberated Changes to Draft Report
  • City Council – Held Public Meeting #4
  • City Council – Submitted formal request for Charter Revision Commission to consider City Council Recommended Changes to Draft Report
  • Charter Revision Commission – Reviewed City Council Recommendations, deliberated, changed Draft Report to reflect vast majority of what the City Council recommended
  • Charter Revision Commission – Submitted Final Report to the City Council, along with Memorandum explaining which recommendations were accepted, which were rejected, and the reasons why.

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The Council-Manager Form of Government:

To be successful, every community needs the combination of strong:

    • Political leadership
    • Policy development
    • Focus on execution and results
    • Commitment to transparent government
    • Representation and engagement of all segments of community

This form of government encompasses all of the characteristics above in a set of professional values, skills, and practices that ensure the success of the communities that use it. It recognizes the critical role of elected officials/policymakers, who focus on mapping out a collective vision for the community and establishing the policies that govern it. It addresses the need for an individual who oversees the day-to-day management of the community and is devoted to the equitable, efficient, effective, and ethical delivery of services to residents and understands that these roles are distinct, and the management role requires the full-time attention of a highly trained and experienced executive team.

Learn More About the City Manager

Move all elected positions to 4-year terms.
The Commission noted the following:
Moving to 4-year terms allows the elected officials to concentrate on the Long-Term health and welfare of the city as opposed to spending time evaluating and organizing for re-election.  Additionally, 4-year terms provide:

  • Stability
  • Consistency of message
  • Cost savings to the City

The Commission noted the following:

The Board of Education members currently serve under 4-year terms, however their tenures are staggered.  Since there will no longer be elections every 2 years, all 9 members of the Board of Education have been moved to the same 4-year election. 

3-Voting Districts - Each political party shall nominate 2 candidates in each of the 3 voting districts. The 3 candidates receiving the highest number of votes in each district shall be elected to the Board of Education.

Moving to District representation instead of at-large representation means that every school in West Haven will have 3 Board Members on the BOE from that district.

  • With 3 Districts, the elected officials will be able to operate in a “block” to support the citizens of their District.
  • No change in minority representation.
  • The Board of Education Members will continue to serve without compensation.
  • Moving to non-staggered terms puts the BOE on the same cycle as all other elected officials.
  • Under the current charter, Chapter XX – Section 6b – Extension of Terms of Office – The charter already grants the City authority to extend terms of elective office beyond their normal expiration date. This clause will need to be utilized in order to extend the terms for the 5 BOE Members whose original term expires in 2023 to move them to 2025 cycle.

City Clerk

Town and City Clerks are public information officers who serve as liaisons between local government and the public.

Brief list of some items the City Clerk is responsible for:

  • Public records (Land Records, Land Surveys and Maps, Military Discharges)
  • Vital statistics (Marriage and Birth Certificates)
  • Licensing (Business licenses and Burial Permits)
  • Certain duties in connection with elections (Certify Nominating Petitions and Compile Election Results)

Certification Requirements:

  • Successful completion of 5 classes at the school for Connecticut Town Clerks.
  • Completion of on the job training of not less than two years work in the municipal clerk field.
  • Successful completion of the mandatory final exam.

Because of the extremely important, sensitive and confidential nature of the above responsibilities and certification requirements, we have proposed to move this position from Elected to Appointed by the City Manager, with an employment contract. A college degree and/or a minimum of 5 years’ experience working in a related field is required.

Finance Director
Employment Contract with Credentials (Bachelor’s Degree and 5 years municipal experience)
Director Public Works

  • Changed Title from Commissioner to Director.
  • Employment Contract with Credentials (Bachelor’s in Public Administration, Engineering or related and 5 years Public Works Management or Civil Engineering)
  • Removed requirement for City Engineer and allow Director to hire as required.

Director of Planning and Development

  • Changed Title from Commissioner to Director.
  • Employment Contract with Credentials (Bachelor’s Degree in related field or 5 years experience in Public Planning and Development)

Chief of Police

  • Employment Contract (Credentials covered by Board of Police Commissioners)
  • General Statutes prevail in case of a conflict

Emergency Reporting System

  • Recognition of its existence.
  • Director reports to City Manager.
  • Credentials - College Degree or minimum of 5 years’ experience in related field.

 

New Organizational Structure

Commission of Ethics and Compliance

  • Changed from Board to Commission. (A Commission has higher legal status)
  • Oversee code of ethics and compliance with the Charter.
  • Cannot hold any other elected/appointed position or have a business contract with City.
  • Only eligible to serve one 4-year term.

Vacancy in the Office of Mayor

  • Highest ranking member of same party ascends to Mayor.
  • If no members of same party, Majority vote of Council among Council Membership

Financial Impact of Ordinance

  • Any Bonds need to be approved by City Manager
  • Any Ordinance passed by the Council that has a financial impact on the budget must also be approved by the City Manager

Retired Personnel
No person on retirement compensation from any department of the municipal government shall be eligible for more than 19 hours per week of employment by the municipality. However, in the case of an emergency vacancy, a retired municipal government employee may be brought back as a contractor, on a temporary basis of no more than 90 days, by 2/3rds vote of Council. Can be renewed for an additional 90 days.

West Haven Charter Revision Education and Outreach Committee

Read Charter Revision Commission Presentation

Current City Charter

Proposed City Charter

View Ballot