CHESHIRE – The Town Council has joined others in voicing its opposition to tolls on state highways.
The council’s six Republicans voted in favor of the resolution during a special meeting Thursday. Two of the council’s Democrats abstained and a third was not present.
Tim Slocum, a Republican councilor, said local resident Thomas Morrissey requested the resolution opposing tolls. He also heard from other residents who were concerned about the issue.
“We weren’t doing it for politics,” he said. “We were motivated by constituents.”
The resolution was modified from one suggested by state Rep. Craig Fishbein, R-Wallingford, who also represents part of Cheshire.
Slocum said he and other council leaders took out a reference to the former governor and made other changes to keep it non-partisan.
“You want to get the language right,” he said. “We wanted something that was cogent and clear and went to the heart of the issue.”
Peter Talbot, a council Democrat, said the resolution was “entirely political.”
“(The) complexity is beyond the purview of the Cheshire Town Council,” Talbot said. “People didn’t elect me to weigh in on state issues, they elected me to run the town of Cheshire along with eight others.”
Talbot and Jeff Falk, another council Democrat, abstained.
“It has nothing to do with whether I support or don’t support tolls,” Talbot said.
The resolution said that local roads would receive more traffic and wear due to drivers avoiding highway tolls.
“The Town Council of the Town of Cheshire feels that the residents of our municipality should not have to shoulder the additional tax burden of tolls, and that Cheshire will be disproportionately burdened due to our geographic location relative to the proposed location of tolls,” it read.
Slocum said the council approves a legislative agenda that directs the town’s senators and representatives on issues that impact Cheshire. The resolution may help sway General Assembly members who are on the fence about tolls.
“Why should we keep our mouths shut?” he said.
Talbot said the resolution could open the door to similar motions on a host of hot-button political issues.
“Are we going to be voting on banning bump stocks?” he said. “Are we going to be voting on whether (President Donald) Trump’s tax returns should be released?”
Similar resolutions on tolls have come before governing bodies of other municipalities. Wallingford’s Town Council, which has a Republican majority, supported an anti-tolls resolution. The Southington Town Council’s Democratic majority voted down a Republican attempt to put a tolls resolution on the council agenda. Meriden’s Democratic-led City Council tabled an anti-tolls resolution.