Ridgefield finance board to interview candidates next month

The town’s leading fiscal watchdog could use another set of eyes.

The Board of Finance is short a fifth member with the resignation of Sean Connelly, who was elected in November to the Board of Selectmen.

The finance board plans to interview candidates — and vote to fill the empty seat — on Dec. 10, a Tuesday, at a meeting scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. in town hall.

“The charter gives us 30 days after Sean’s resignation — last Tuesday, [Nov.] 12th,” Chairman Dave Ulmer told fellow finance board members at its Nov. 19 meeting.

That means the finance board will have to have filled the seat by Dec. 12, or the task will be passed along to the Board of Selectmen — a process that most town boards and commissions have traditionally sought to avoid, preferring to fill their empty seats with new members of their own choosing.

The charter also dictates that if a departed member was elected as part of a political party, the appointed replacement must be of same affiliation. Connelly is a Democrat, so the new member appointed to the seat he resigned from must be a Democrat.

Candidates for the position may seek the endorsement of the Democratic Town Committee, although the party’s backing is not necessary for the appointment.

“DTC is soliciting potential candidates,” said Democratic town Chairman Alex Harris. “We have scheduled a special meeting on Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. in the Town Annex.”

Ulmer said at the Nov. 19 meeting that “four or five people” had already expressed interest in joining the finance board.

Budget duties

The finance board’s main duties are to receive and review budget requests from the Board of Selectmen and Board of Education, then combine and perhaps amend them — usually this involves cutting a bit — before passing a proposed budget on to voters at May’s annual town meeting and budget referendum.

The budget package the finance board presents to voters includes school and town spending levels, a proposed list of capital expenditures — more costly building projects and equipment purchases that are to be financed with borrowing — as well as the coming year’s proposed tax rate.

Putting all that together tends to mean quite a few night meetings in the first months of the year, with usually at least one run of four or five nights in a week, with maybe a Saturday morning included.

The town’s fiscal year starts July 1, so all the board’s budget work must be completed by the end of June — although usually, if voters pass the budget on their first go-through, everything is done sometime early in May.

Outside of budget season, the board usually meets once a month, almost always on a Tuesday night. It hears monthly reports from the tax collector and treasurer and controller, and keeps an eye on town revenues and spending. The finance board also reviews larger out-of-budget spending proposals that may come along — dealing with them as requests from either the school board or the selectmen.

People interested in the open finance board seat may email Controller Kevin Redmond at controller@ridgefieldct.org. Letters may be mailed to Dave Ulmer, chairman, Board of Finance (care of Kevin Redmond, finance department) 400 Main Street, Ridgefield CT, 06877.

To interview for the Democratic Town Committee’s endorsement for the seat, contact committee Chairman Harris at aharris61@me.com.