A Republican member of the city's planning and zoning board is running for city treasurer with the intention of eliminating the position she calls a "superfluous figurehead" — one that's been held by Democrats for nearly two decades.
Molly Salafia, 29, an architectural designer and project manager, says the Middletown treasurer position "has become a political patronage prize with a bill to taxpayers of $8,600 plus for two years of playing a role with little actual impact on how public money — their money — is spent."
An $8,000 stipend she says, 'Is kind of ridiculous."
Years ago, the treasurer had many more duties which have since been eliminated by Middletown's common council, Salafia says.
"The treasurer attends a handful of meetings a year, and has a rubber stamp of his or her signature the finance department uses on checks, but that is all," Salafia says. "The treasurer does not draft a budget, nor does he or she sit down shoulder to shoulder with the directors and mayor and crunch numbers. This role is one that the taxpayers are already paying the finance department to do."
The state of Connecticut statutes requires municipalities to have a treasurer, Salafia acknowledges, so the elimination of the treasurer's position would require a change in Middletown's charter, something she's willing to work on if elected.
In her capacity as Planning and Zoning commissioner and Design Review Historic Preservation board member, Salafia already attends three to four meetings a month without any compensation.
If elected as treasurer, Salafia says, she'll "use the recognition to be a voice that pushes for more opportunities that goods and services the city undertakes go out to public bid, a practice that this administration has proven it avoids. I would also be an advocate for the reorganization of the Water & Sewer Department from the top down which has been sending grossly inaccurate bills to residents for years."
Since 2011, Democrat Quentin Phipps has been city treasurer. He's also the executive director of the Downtown Business District and is seeking re-election in November. For 16 years, from 1995 to 2011, Democrat Christine Bourne held the position. Last month, she successfully sued the city to get her board of education payroll supervisor position back.