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Herbst: Move Trumbull Forward, Make Reforms

Tim Herbst is sworn in by his sister, Amanda, on Monday night at Trumbull High School
Tim Herbst is sworn in by his sister, Amanda, on Monday night at Trumbull High School
This is the second of two articles about the inauguration address by the recently re-elected First Selectman Tim Herbst.

Trumbull should advance on several fronts, First Selectman Tim Herbst told a crowd at Trumbull High School gathered for his third inauguration ceremony.

The thrust of his plan is to save money and spend wisely to push Trumbull's bond rating to AAA, Herbst said. This can be done through eliminating inefficiencies and duplication and increasing public safety. Herbst also called for reforming the town ethics code the Ethics Commission.

Starting with education, the first selectman said the school district should immediately start planning for future building repairs and efficiencies.

"We had an efficiency study prepared last year by the Gibson Group. Some of these recommendations have been acted upon, many others have not. I am asking the Board of Education to begin the process of prioritizing these efficiencies and implementing them over the course of the next years," Herbst said.

He said the school district has dragged its feet in spending $2.5 million for facilities upgrades. "It shouldn't take more than a year before planning of these upgrades begin," Herbst said. "I am asking the Board of Education to vote to authorize the town to assist in reorganization of its Facilities department and to assist in the development and implementation of a capital program for our older schools, one that is realistic, sensible and affordable."

Al Barbarotta, a contractor, is the school district's current facilities manager. Herbst has publicly criticized Barbarotta for serving in multiple roles in the school system. Barbarotta is suing Herbst for interfering in a contract he was trying to win with TLC Inc., a private program that runs daycare and after-school activities.

Barbarotta is also the owner's representative on the Trumbull High School renovation project, which was started in 2006 and is supposed to end this year. Barbarotta was also among several school officials targeted in an ethics complaint filed by Trumbull's Internal Auditor James Henderson, which was later dismissed.

The town paid legal fees for several of the targets, but not Barbarotta. 

Trash to Energy, Communications and Pensions

Savings will also come from combining EMS, Police and Fire Department dispatch, Herbst said. Centralization will also increase public safety through decreased response times, he added.

The Town Council should also approve a deal with Westport and Fairfield for converting trash into energy, "which will allow us to get more competitive electrical rates while reducing the town's operating budget."

"Trumbull can be a leader in the pursuit of green technology and position our community to be more competitive in attracting more businesses to Trumbull. I'm asking the Trumbull Town Council to approve this inter-municipal agreement within the next 30 days," Herbst said.

Finally, Herbst asked for the Charter to be changed to require future administrations to "meet its required annual pension contributions each year in the town's operating budget."

"Tonight I say, no more kicking the can and no more passing the buck. Make this requirement binding law so never again do poor decisions and political expediency compromise the fiscal health of Trumbull," Herbst said.

Ethics, Trumbull Seniors

Turning to the Charter again, Herbst said the town's Ethics Code should be changed and an ordinance passed that would place contractors under the code.

Herbst also suggested putting former federal prosecutor Wllliam Brown, former Police Officer Robert Miller and Pastor Joseph Piccirillo on the Ethics Commission.

The current commission dismissed the ethics complaint against Barbarotta and other education officials. "This past year taught us that Trumbull's Ethics Code is need of revision," he said.

Herbst asked for the revisions to be finalized in six months. Additionally, he requested that the Board of Education "at their first meeting ... adopt a resolution which states that their board is bound by our local Ethics Code as well."

The Board of Education meets tonight, Dec. 3.

Regarding seniors, Herbst proposed a community center including a senior center and a library, "a facility that is centrally located and a facility that is multigenerational and that brings our town together."

"I am asking the Town Council to begin the feasibility assessment for such an endeavor," Herbst said.

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