Montville — A petition challenging the Town Council's decision to grant the Water Pollution Control Authority final say over its personnel and budget was submitted Monday prior to a 4:30 p.m. deadline, Town Clerk Lisa Terry confirmed.
The petition, first filed by Ellen Hillman, a former town councilor, will continue to be vetted today to ensure that all its signatures came from either registered voters or taxpayers of the town. The Town Clerk's office was in the midst of that process at the end of business Monday.
The petition needs 481 signatures — 5 percent of the town's 9,614 registered voters — to force the council to either reconsider its decision or schedule a town meeting. By charter, the petition had to be filed by Monday, which was 20 days after the council's initial vote on the matter.
That 5-2 vote approved an ordinance that sought to clarify a 1995 town charter revision that gave the WPCA authority over its operations, employees and their contracts.
Although water rates will still require council approval, several residents voiced criticism of the ordinance last month at a public hearing and argued the council should not give up its oversight of a municipal organization.
The Town Council had taken oversight over the WPCA’s accounting in 2006 in part because a former employee embezzled $51,500 from the department over several years. The attorney for the WPCA and its chairman have argued recently that the charter revision was designed to give the authority autonomy over itself.
Assuming the petition has enough valid signatures, the council will have 20 days to either reconsider its vote or schedule a town meeting. The meeting would give voters and taxpayers the opportunity to overturn the council’s decision.