(Waterbury Republican-American) Rep. O,Neill, Sen. Kane’s Heritage Village Bill Passes Legislature

June 5, 2013

Article as it appeared in the Waterbury Republican-American

SOUTHBURY An amended version of a bill that would change how Heritage Village adopts its budget has passed both houses of the General Assembly.

The legislation, proposed by Rep. Arthur J. O’Neill, R-Southbury, and Sen. Robert J. Kane, R-Watertown, moves to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s desk for his signature or veto.

The bill would count only ballots cast when Heritage Village residents vote on their yearly operating budget.

Under current law, condominium budgets must be approved by a majority of all unit owners to pass, regardless of whether people actually vote. All unreturned ballots are considered “yes” votes.

The first version of the bill would have impacted all common ownership communities in Connecticut, but the legislation was amended last week to impact only associations with at least 2,400 units.

The only association in Connecticut that large is Heritage Village, which has 2,580 units.

The amendment came at the request of the governor’s office, which did not like that the bill would target every condominium association in the state, Kane said.

“They wanted it tailored or narrowed to Heritage Village,” Kane said. “We think it’s good policy overall, but the administration asked that it be amended.”

“We’ve been talking to the governor’s office to make sure they were in agreement with it,” O’Neill said.

He said lobbyists for condominium management companies wanted the bill amended. “Anything that makes it a little more difficult to get a budget passed, they would rather not deal with,” he said.

The amended bill passed in the Senate on Saturday night, and passed in the House on Monday.

The bill is intended to prevent situations like what happened in Heritage Village in 2011, when owners voted 1,192-594 to reject the budget.

Because a majority of owners — in this case 1,291 — did not vote “no” on the budget, the spending plan passed.

The bill would require that the number of votes to reject a budget exceed one-third of the total unit owners. That, O’Neill and Kane have said, would prevent small and unrepresentative minorities from blocking adoption of the budget.

Some village residents complain the new requirement will make it easier for people to vote down budgets, thereby delaying improvements and impacting property values, but Kane said most people want more say in their association’s spending.

“It tends to make sense, that you go by a majority of the vote tally,” he said. “It’s just like any other referendum or an election. You use who shows up. In the big scheme of things, I think it’s the most equitable solution.”

This is the second year O’Neill and Kane have proposed the bill. Last year it stalled when it reached Malloy’s desk.