Sadlowski v. Manchester

In Sadlowski v. Manchester, 206 Conn. 579, 538 A.2d 1052 (1988), the Manchester board of directors approved the issuance of tax increment bonds pursuant to General Statutes 8-192. Although the statutory scheme merely required the legislative body of the municipality to approve the bonds before they were issued, a group of residents sought to have their issuance put to a referendum pursuant to 5-25 of the charter of the town of Manchester. Section 5-25 of the Manchester town charter provides in relevant part: BORROWING FOR CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS. To finance all or any part of the expense of any capital project which the Town may lawfully construct or acquire, the Town may incur indebtedness by issuing its negotiable bonds . . . subject to the limitations of the General Statutes. Such bonds shall be authorized by a majority vote of all the members of the Board of Directors. No bonds . . . shall be issued, however, until the project for which the bonds . . . are to be issued has been favorably acted upon by the voters of the Town at any regular or special election duly warned for that purpose." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Sadlowski v. Manchester, supra, 206 Conn. 582 n.3. The court framed the issue as "how to reconcile this reference to 'legislative body' in 8-192 (a) with the provisions of a local charter that stipulate that municipal bonds generally must be authorized by a two step process including not only the approval of the local board of directors but also the favorable action of the voters of the town." Id., 580-81. The court concluded that 5-25 of the Manchester town charter was inapplicable to tax increment bonds issued pursuant to 8-192 because the charter provision applies to "general municipal obligation bonding that constitutes a charge on the town's taxpayers"; id., 586; not to tax increment bonds, which are paid entirely by revenues from municipal development projects. Id., 586-87. The court further determined that the term "legislative body" does not encompass the legislative process of voters acting on a referendum. Id., 589. The court was responding to the trial court's conclusion that the referendum process under 5-25 of the Manchester town charter was equivalent to a town meeting under General Statutes 7-193 (a) and, therefore, under subsection (a) (1) (D) of that statute, the legislative body for Manchester consisted of the board of directors and the referendum process. Sadlowski v. Manchester, supra, 206 Conn. 589.