You Just Never Know

Sometimes you just never know what will trip you up.

At last night’s RTM meeting, we were looking at 10 or so items and several could go on the consent calendar, speeding things along. We made an appointment, approved odds and ends and even had an item fall off the agenda thanks to successful negotiations between the town and a property owner.

We were looking at an 8:30 wrap-up, which would have been great. I was definitely tired after the first day back in the commuting world (more on that later in the week).

So, we got to the supplemental item on the Call. It was some adjustments to the language of our town’s pension agreement with the Police and Firefighters’ unions, allowing retirees to consult with the town and earn some bucks without jeopardizing their pensions. It was a revenue-neutral bit of business and came to us because the Charter insisted the RTM had to approve any changes to the language.

Well, that seemed innocuous enough. But then one after another, people got up to question why this was coming before the body. Why was the RTM adjusting pension provisions and wasn’t this going to put us no a slippery slope, projecting some future time we might raid the pension fund in a dire emergency?

Then it came to light that the Charter specifically called for any change to the pension agreement be subject to actuarial review before action by the Board of Finance before it appeared before the RTM. That seemed to flummox the town officials, especially the relatively-recently appointed new head of HR.

Caught flat-flooted, it was first seen as revenue neutral so our town attorneys didn’t feel it merited the actuarial review, which would cost the town some dollars. HR just wanted to make sure the two guys owed money got it before too much longer. Our moderator looked ready to throttle the next representative that slowed the night up even further.

A motion had been made to form a committee to study this which was replaced by tabling the item until the following meeting, allowing the town to figure out if this fell under the Charter or not.

As we wound down, it was becoming clear that yet another member of the Republican Party was making statements and sounding like a candidate for First Selectman come the 2007 election. That certainly made things interesting if you take the long view.

By 8:55, we tidied things up and called it a night. But, not before we finalized the Ordinance Committee charged with writing ordinances based on a Blue Ribbon Committee’s report on town zoning issues. I’m one of the five on the Committee so I’ll be experiencing what it’s like to write the law.

We repaired to the Angus for our traditional “socialable Soda” and I was heartened to see it a more bi-partisan crowd, than usual. While we continue to have philosophical differences, at least we can discuss it civilly with smiles and good humor.