Purnell’s Involvement In Town EDU Talks Questioned

BERLIN – Ethics questions first posed during a mid-December election over new Berlin Town Councilman Troy Purnell have resurfaced after a discussion of wastewater allocation payments.

The question came up again after the Feb. 23 town council meeting discussion on wastewater capacity fees, when Purnell expressed concern over a wastewater application fee. During that meeting, Purnell said of the application fee, “It adds on an extra layer of burden.”

The ethics question appeared in January during an earlier review of the wastewater policy, but Berlin attorney Dave Gaskill said he saw no problem with Purnell participating when the policy would apply to all citizens and business owners.

“I sought legal advice when the question first got asked. The attorney said there wasn’t a conflict. I’m sticking by that,” Purnell said.

Purnell reiterated that position this week, saying the policy would affect other council members with property in town that could be developed. “It affects each and every person in different ways,” Purnell said.

Purnell, who owns Berlin Properties North with family members, has one project awaiting EDUs. Purnell Crossing would need about 200 EDUs for later phases, he said.

When Purnell ran for office this fall, he was dogged by questions over whether he could ethically serve when so many upcoming council decisions concerned growth and building policies.

The town’s ethics code, under conflicts of interest, reads: “Berlin officials and employees who are subject to this chapter shall not: participate on behalf of the town in any matter which would have a direct financial impact on them, their spouse or dependent child or a business entity with which they are affiliated.”

One citizen could not let the matter rest.

“Troy has a lot of money at stake based on whether that 10 percent was in or out of that ordinance,” Marge Coyman said. “It would have been appropriate if he was following our ethics rules to recuse himself. I see it as a direct violation of the ethics code.”

Coyman said she would be making an ethics complaint to the town.

When reached yesterday, Purnell said, “It’s a non-issue.”

The wastewater regulations will be up for discussion again at the town council meeting on Monday, Feb. 9.