STONINGTON — A set of ordinances approved at a town meeting on Monday will give local police the ability to better enforce park regulations in the community, as well as provide a cost-of-living adjustment as part of the plan to city retreat.
Members of the public voted overwhelmingly in a special ballot to approve five separate orders, each aimed at improving or streamlining government operations, increasing efficiency and addressing a long overdue need to provide adjustments to retirees. Each measure passed by margins of at least 14 to 1, with 51 people participating.
Not all members of the public who participated voted on all measures, officials said.
First coach Danielle Chesebrough said the new ordinances will give the community a chance to better address concerns raised by the public, including an increase in the reported number of people violating no-smoking signs and posted parking hours. at several city locations, including Donahue Park in Pawcatuck, which officials have been working to address recently following complaints of drug use and other after-hours issues.
“For many places in town we have no smoking signs and hours of operation posted on signs, but when the new chief was hired and reviewed the town ordinances he found that ‘there were ordinances that allowed the police to really do anything to enforce what was on those signs,’ Chesebrough said.
She said Stonington Police Chief Jay DelGrosso explained that while the signs could allow police to ask those present to follow the suggested guidelines, there was no way for officers to issue a ticket or do anything but just ask for compliance and move on to the enforceable orders. , which the city did not have.
The new ordinances, a no-smoking ordinance that passed 49-2 and a business hours ordinance that passed 43-3, will allow for citations and other efforts, officials said.
“To put it simply, it was unenforceable. Now our officers will be able to enforce these rules much more easily,” Chesebrough said.
Another big change approved is the city’s pension plan, a benefit available to long-serving community employees after they retire. Officials said that before Monday’s vote, the plan had not been adjusted since 2014 and therefore those who had retired had not received an appropriate cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, over the past eight years.
Retirees and members of the city’s advisory committee had asked the city to consider adjustments over the past few years and with recent changes in the economy, which include significant increases in the costs of food, energy and other resources, it was time to provide increased benefits.
The measure went by a 46-2 margin.
“These are long-serving employees who haven’t had a cost-of-living increase in years, so it was time to give them something,” she said.
On Monday, residents also approved a housekeeping measure to allow officials to update an existing ordinance to provide that property and personal tax bill threshold amounts are due and payable in one installment. The measure went 47-2.
A fifth measure, approved 49-2, adopted an ordinance to notify an application for a demolition permit and provide for the time limit for the demolition of historic structures.
“Some of these things are things that we’ve had to sort out for years,” Chesebrough said. “It’s good to see that residents were ready to come out, and it was good to be able to move forward with solutions.”