Selectmen Technology Advisory Committee formed
Updated 1:53 pm, Wednesday, February 28, 2018
NEW CANAAN — It seems the Utilities Commission will remain dormant as a new, Selectmen advisory committee will be created in its place.
“There are no examples of citizens bringing complaints to the Utilities Commission,” said Republican First Selectman Kevin Moynihan. “It did not perform the function it was designed for.”
Last week, Selectman Kit Devereaux, Democrat, had argued in favor of preserving the Utilities Commission, which currently lacks a quorum, saying a “public and accessible vehicle” would be preferable for the town.
Moynihan, who was absent at last week’s meeting, differed in opinion, lobbying an advisory committee that would directly report to the Board of Selectman.
The selectmen unanimously approved the formation of the Advisory Technology Committee and are planning to fill the five seats in the coming weeks.
Republican Selectman Nick Williams said a committee with “illustrious techies” would be a good idea and noted that it would be the Town Council that would decide whether or not to repeal the ordinances that created the Utilities Commission back in 1986.
Devereaux pressed the question of how the public would be able to interact with the committee. Moynihan responded that, like other committees, it would be subject to the Freedom of Information Act, required to have agendas prior to its meetings and could allot time for public comment.
So far, there are three possible candidates from the Republican Town Council to fill in positions in the five-member committee which would result in a Republican majority for the newly-formed body.
“I need two Democrat nominees from the Democratic Town Council. I would like to populate this committee sometime in March,” Moynihan said.
According to the Selectmen meeting agenda, the committee’s objectives would be “to investigate, evaluate and recommend to town departments potential applications of technology (existing and developing, including internet applications) to make town government more efficient and cost-effective or to make it more convenient for residents, vendors and service providers.”
“Is this way more than Information Technology? Is this more than computers?,” Devereaux asked.
Moynihan responded by saying that technology could take many forms and that wording was broad. “If you look at other towns and cities you can find many applications that are doing online things and we could do more, there are many vendors of applications that we can buy.”
An example of technology that was brought up was the mobile application Venmo which can be used to make payments via bank account, debit card or prepaid card to other users of the application. Fees are waived by the application though if money from a credit card is used, a 3 percent fee applies.
“We pay about $100,000 a year in credit card fees - from Parks and Recreation and other departments - and we need to find a way to avoid those bank fees,” Moynihan said. “We may find a way for citizens to perhaps have town accounts.”