SOUTHINGTON – Following a lengthy, heated debate that included a recess, the Town Council voted against taking action on a resolution opposing tolls during its meeting Monday night.
The council’s five Democrats prevailed over four Republicans in a vote to put the resolution on the council agenda.
A resolution, proposed by Republican councilor Tom Lombardi, opposed tolls. Republicans said it was important to show town government’s opposition while Democrats argued that the issue wasn’t within the council’s jurisdiction.
State Rep. Joe Aresimowicz, a Democrat representing Berlin and Southington, attended Monday’s meeting and spoke to councilors. He said the resolution was premature since there were several toll proposals in the General Assembly.
“The bill is not formed yet,” Aresimowicz said. “Nobody knows. The bill is not finalized. There’s three different proposals.”
Council Chairman Chris Palmieri, a Democrat, called a recess during an exchange in which Republican councilor Michael Riccio and Aresimowicz talked over each other. Riccio questioned why Aresimowicz was pushing for tolls when he was unable to provide more details on how they would affect residents.
More than two dozen people organized by the No Tolls group stood with signs on North Main Street prior to the meeting Monday night and stood in the back of council chambers during the meeting. The group clapped in support of Republican councilors who spoke against tolls.
Chris Poulos, a Democratic councilor, said Lombardi’s resolution simplified a complex issue and added it was too early to take a position.
“It’s fueled by emotions,” Poulos said.
He commutes to Redding and said tolls might cost him between $100 and $200 per month.
Victoria Triano, a Republican councilor, said that cost might be sustainable to many in the community but that those on fixed incomes or in other hard circumstances can’t afford the additional expenses.
“We’re not talking about you Chris, we’re not talking about me. We’re talking about those who cannot afford this,” Triano said.
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