Milford City Council talks special election, referendum

MILFORD – Voters in Milford’s second ward will have another chance to vote in a member of city council this year.

Councilmember Jamie Burk resigned from his seat on council at the end of a police committee meeting Thursday, May 3. His resignation came after the committee spoke of a potential referendum to help pay for a new police station and five additional officers.

A special election will now need to be held to fill his seat for the remainder of the term, according to City Solicitor David Rutt. City officials can appoint someone to take on a vacant council seat if the vacancy occurred with only a year left or less in the term. However, Mr. Burk’s resignation came in two days short of that requirement, Mr. Rutt explained.

His decision “prompted” a call to Redstone Architects to see whether the city council should consider a joint special election and referendum vote, or keep the two separate, according to City Manager Eric Norenberg.

The designing and engineering phase of building a new police station alone could cost the city of Milford more than $900,000. The total project could cost more than $13 million, Mr. Norenberg told The Chronicle.

A referendum will be needed, as Mr. Norenberg explained, “requesting authorization in financing bonds and for tax increases during that period.”

He presented the two election options to council during its most recent meeting Monday, May 14, stating preliminary planning for the new police station could begin immediately for about $47,000 if council approved a joint special election and referendum.

Combining the two public votes into one election would push the election back until the end of September, however, council members wanted to see a new member from ward two chosen sooner.

“It’s two distinct issues. We should not be trying to rush [it] along,” the council’s newest member Michael Boyle said about the referendum.

Councilmember Owen Brookes agreed, saying, “We want to do the referendum correctly. We have to talk to the people.”

The referendum has not yet been scheduled. The special election for a ward two council person will be held Thursday, August 23 from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. at city hall. The deadline to file for the vacant seat is Monday, June 25 at 4:30 p.m.

Citizens interested in voting must be registered to vote. New voter registrations will be accepted Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. through Tuesday, July 24. Applicants must present verification of identity and residence and/or proof of property ownership. Anyone unable to register to vote during regular business hours can schedule a special registration time by calling city hall 302-422-1111.

Candidacy packets were not available as of press time, however, Todd Culotta has already announced his intentions “to carry on my commitment to Milford and where I’d like to see Milford go,” he said. “If I can contribute by being on the city council, I am certainly excited about that.”

Mr. Burk declined to comment for this article.

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at mc@newszap.com

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