Lynch Points Out New Sunset Clause Left Out Of Codebook

BERLIN – A law passed by the Berlin Mayor and Council last spring has not been included in the official Berlin town code, a council member discovered recently.

Last spring the town council voted to remove a sunset clause placed on sewer and water allocations. If an allocation went unused for 10 years, under the previous regulations that are still listed in the code, the allocation could then be recaptured by the town.

Last spring, the town council voted to do away with the sunset clause on that utility allocation, rendering utility assignments permanent.

That is not what is currently in the official Berlin code, Councilwoman Paula Lynch pointed out at this week’s town council meeting.

“I don’t think that’s what we passed … it was my understanding once somebody got an allocation it was in perpetuity,” said Lynch.

If the council does not monitor the inclusion of new ordinances and regulations in the town code, there is a chance that no one will catch any mistakes, said Lynch.

“This went on for months,” Lynch said. “When we do something like this, it seems the next meeting we ought to come back with what was actually passed.”           

Berlin town attorney Dave Gaskill said he would draft an amendment to the written code to alleviate the problem.

“The problem is it’s in the code. It made its way into the book,” Gaskill said.

New pages would be printed up and swapped into the town’s codebooks, Planning and Zoning Director Chuck Ward said.

A mistake was made when the law was changed in the spring and the wrong information was added to code books, Carson said. When a law changes, or a new law is created, the new text is sent to a company called General Code for printing. Town staff then adds the new pages into all the bound codebooks held by the town.

“It’s all done electronically,” said Carson. “There were probably half a dozen versions of this in the computer and the wrong one was sent to them.”

The town was not in danger of following the obsolete law, Carson said, because he works from the formal, town printed copy of the new legislation signed by the Mayor and Council, which is the correct version.

“I will now make sure when we get our inserts from General Code I’ll match them up to what we have here in town hall,” Carson said.