The impasse on Manchester's town council over the selection of a fifth member is becoming a bad joke that must end. With less than six weeks in which to pass a new budget, the escalating war between the council's two factions may ultimately do irreparable damage to the town.
Ever since councilman Robert C. Kolodziejski announced a month ago that he would resign, the council has been deadlocked on picking his successor and just about all other business.
After three different votes, the council is no closer to selecting a fifth member. Regardless of the candidate, council members Charlotte Collett and Chris D'Amario line up with each other and Douglas Myers and Katherine Riley, members of the other BTC faction, vote the opposite way. It took nearly five months of stalemated votes to select Mr. D'Amario, and it appears the council is dead-set on repeating that scenario. Three different rounds of votes have been taken in the past five weeks, and the council has voted 2-2 each time. The ill will between the two factions threatens to poison all council business just as it did late last year.
Mayor Earl A. J. "Tim" Warehime Jr. submitted his budget last week. Unless the council stalemate ends, the town runs the risk of not approving a budget come July 1 if the standoff spills over to the council's deliberations on the town budget.
Some parts of Mr. Warehime's proposed budget will be controversial and need serious consideration. The budget calls for a property tax rate of 46 cents, an increase of five cents from its current level. It also calls for supplying health insurance to town workers, a general cost of living increase and the beginnings of a merit pay system.
All of these topics are likely to generate some intense discussion and differences of opinion. Instead of using the budget to wage war against each other, the council members should stick to the substance of the issues.
If Manchester ever gets a fifth council member, it might be a good idea to revise the town charter so that this kind of disruptive behavior doesn't recur. There are a number of alternative methods worth exploring. The mayor could select a replacement or the town could hold special elections and leave the choice to the voters. Whatever the choice, it would be far preferable to the current impasse.