Tag Archives: Representative Town Meeting

RTM January Meeting: Code Of Conduct Committee, Police Review Board

This is Peter Gold’s report on the January Representative Town Meeting. He is an RTM member writing for himself, and not in an official capacity.

No votes were taken at January’s RTM meeting, which saw the announcement of a new special RTM committee, the first reading of an ordinance to establish a civilian police review board, and the announcement of a new town clerk to replace the retiring Patty Strauss.

While RTM rules already require RTM members to conduct themselves in a manner above reproach, Velma Heller, RTM moderator, noted that the start of a new year is a timely occasion to take a step back and review RTM practices. She appointed a special committee of 7 RTM members to see if there is room for improvement, and to clarify expectations regarding conduct at public meetings and in written communications.

The committee is charged with developing a Code of Conduct that articulates desired behaviors that embody the RTM’s values and principles as an organization. The Code of Conduct will cover topics such as Freedom of Information Act issues, the general use of email and social media, and commonly accepted standards of decorum for participation in public discourse, whether in person or on line.

A proposed ordinance was introduced to establish an elected civilian police review board. It would receive, investigate and make recommendations on complains regarding the police. The ultimate decision on any complaint will remain with the chief of police.

Click here for the full text of the proposed ordinance (immediately following the list of upcoming RTM meetings).

The proposed ordinance will be reviewed at upcoming public meetings of the RTM Public Protection and Ordinance Committees. It will be debated and voted on at a subsequent RTM meeting, most likely in February or March.

If the proposed ordinance is adopted, the elected civilian police review board would replace the civilian review panel recently appointed by First Selectman Marpe. That panel reviews and provides feedback on documented complaints regarding the police that are investigated by the Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards. Unlike the proposed ordinance’s review board, it can not investigate complaints. Also unlike the proposed ordinance’s review board, Marpe’s panel also reviews complaints regarding the Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services.

Marpe also announced that Jeff Dunkerton, the assistant town clerk in Danbury, will replace Patty Strauss who recently retired as Westport’s town clerk.

RTM Approves Local Tax Deferment Program

Last night, the RTM approved 1st Selectman Jim Marpe’s tax relief deferment program.

The program — worked out with the help of a number of town officials — acts as an extended grace period on tax payments for Westport taxpayers suffering financial hardship due to COVID-19.

Eligible taxpayers can utilize the program for their April and July tax bills on real estate, personal property, motor vehicles and sewer assessments.

Payments made any time within 3 months from each bill’s due date will not incur interest charges or penalties.

Applications for the deferment program must include one of these hardships:

  • Household has suffered a reduction in income of at least 20 percent due to COVID-19.
  • Business or nonprofit revenue from March, 2020 to June, 2020 is expected to be reduced by at least 30 percent compared to the same time last year.
  • For landlords: Income is significantly reduced.

The tax deferment program does not forgive tax payments. Late penalties will apply retroactively, at 18% annually or 1.5% per month.

Applicants must submit documentation. Deadlines are May 22 for April 1 taxes, and July 1 for July 1 taxes. Click here for the form, and other information.

Because Town Hall is closed to the public, residents with questions should call 203-341-1147 or email TaxRelief@WestportCT.Gov.

NOTE: Banks and mortgage services that hold tax payments in escrow must continue to pay the town when the taxes are due, even if the homeowner participates in a moratorium on mortgage payments.