Mayor's actions won't hold water
Chicopee councilors' approval of placing the water department superintendent under the Department of Public Works (DPW) superintendent as requested by the mayor is a blatant abuse of mayoral authority. The change puts the water department superintendent under the management of the mayor to whom the DPW superintendent reports, not the water commissioners as required by Article VII, Paragraph 45 of the city code as amended by Chapter 122 of the Acts of 1941 by the state legislature. It may also violate Chapter 41, Section 69B of Part I, Title VII of MGL that establishes water commissioners powers and duties.
Property taxes support the DPW. Taxpayers are levied additional fees to support the water department. Under the new ordinance, the moment a water department employee, piece of equipment, or other resource performs a function for the DPW, even answering a telephone, it will expose the city to possible conflict of interest lawsuits as money raised through an additional tax levy for water purposes is used for other city purposes.
The City Council should reverse their decision and instead approve placing a charter commission on the ballot and let that commission decide the status of the water department.
Jim Raschilla, Chicopee