Supporters petition to return assistant city planner to her job

File Photo: Assistant City Planner Emmeline Harrigan at a Planning and Zoning Board meeting. (Photo by Ralph Petitti)

File Photo: Assistant City Planner Emmeline Harrigan at a Planning and Zoning Board meeting. (Photo by Ralph Petitti)

Shortly after Assistant City Planner Emmeline Harrigan saw the Board of Aldermen eliminate her job during last week’s budget vote, a petition surfaced to overturn the vote and restore Harrigan to the job. As of Monday, about 100 people had signed the petition.

Democratic Alderman Frank Smith made a plea during last week’s Board of Aldermen’s budget vote to keep Harrigan’s job by adding $77,900 back into the budget. The Board of Finance had removed the position and funding when it voted during its phase of the budget process.

The effort failed though. While the aldermen voted 8-7 to add the position back in, adding expenditures requires a two-thirds majority. That means 10 aldermen would have had to vote in favor of keeping the position.

Milford resident Paolo Goren started the petition to reverse the vote based on a section of the City Charter that outlines a means of overturning a Board of Aldermen decision.

Article VI, section 8, states that if a petition is signed by 5% of the city electors and specifies the matter to be overruled and it is filed with the city clerk and certified, an election can be held within 30 days of the certification.

According to the charter, if 25% of registered voters vote to overturn the decision it would be reversed.

As of last July, there were 33,234 voters in the city, though those numbers have likely changed by now. Based on that number, however, about 1,700 registered voters would have to sign a petition to call for a referendum, and about 8,300 would have to vote to overturn the aldermen’s decision.

The petition, which can be found at chn.ge/1jb6ty5, specifically calls for returning Harrigan to the post.

“Bring Emmeline Harrigan back to the City of Milford — restore her position as assistant city planner,” the petition states.

In fighting to keep the job, residents and some city officials said Harrigan is an authority on coastal issues and they pointed out that with increasingly severe storms and more Milford homes located in flood zones, her job is vital.

One petition signer commented, “She is helping hundreds of families, and especially trying to get them back into their homes [after they] lost them in Hurricane Sandy. She is [an] incredible asset to Milford.”

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