January 18, 2018

Audit Commission to take closer look at Hartford's residency rule

HBJ File Photo
HBJ File Photo
Hartford City Hall, 550 Main St.

The chairman of Hartford's Internal Audit Commission said Thursday his panel has voted to review residency affidavits for certain city employees, after questions were raised about whether or not key Bronin administration officials actually live in the city, as required by city ordinance.

The step could lead the audit commission to recommend to the city council that the residency rule be changed or repealed, the chairman said.

On Wednesday, Internal Audit Commission Chairman Bruce Rubenstein and Commissioner Ted See voted to ask city officials to provide an update on the affidavits, which Mayor Luke Bronin's administration did not provide in 2017. Commissioner Kyle Bergquist abstained, Rubenstein said.

The city residency rule requires three forms of supporting documentation to show council and mayoral appointees and department heads are Hartford residents: a Hartford mailing address, and voter and motor vehicle registration.

But current and past practice also has established that mayors provide the affidavits from employees concerning residency. According to Chief Auditor Craig S. Trujillo, former Mayor Pedro Segarra provided the affidavits in 2014 and 2015, and Mayor Luke Bronin provided them in 2016, but not in 2017.

In the wake of the resignation of Sean Fitzpatrick, Bronin's director of development services who quit amid questions about whether he was in compliance with the residency rules, Rubenstein said the affidavits would constitute some evidence regarding the seeming lack of practicality of the rule.

"I think [the ordinance] needs to be repealed because it's impractical," Rubenstein said, speaking for himself and not the panel.

"The six months it gives you is not enough time to buy and sell a house. And the practice of big city mayors is to move on, so it would be imprudent for someone living in Manchester [for example] to sell their home and only stay as a city employee for a year or two because you serve at the mayor's pleasure."

Once the commission gets the affidavits, members will review the ordinance and discuss its merits and possible changes, which could then be recommended to the city council, he said.

Fitzpatrick resigned before the commission could review his supporting evidence that he complied with residency rules. He told multiple news outlets including HBJ that he has a home in Simsbury as well as documentation to support his residency at the city's Town and County social club.

Bronin could not be reached immediately for comment.

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