Over 70 Municipal Leaders From Across CT Assembled
for CCM Day on the Hill
CCM members met with the following state policy leaders to discuss issues of concern to towns and cities:
- Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman
- Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey
- House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz
- Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano
- House Minority Leader Themis Klarides
CCM also held a press conference to highlight municipal issues with the Governor's budget proposal. Below are 6 major issues of concern to towns and cities.
Municipal officials came to the Day on the Hill in the spirit of partnership. The future of Connecticut's citizens, from our newborns to our seniors, depends on a reinvigorated state-local partnership. Municipal officials stand ready to work shoulder-to-shoulder with our state partners to ensure a better place for the people and businesses who call Connecticut home. As officials who have long had to work hard on their own budgets to meet service needs with finite resources, municipal officials appreciate the very difficult task before the General Assembly.
When residents think about the public services that affect their lives, they generally think of services provided by towns and cities: education, public safety (police and fire, code enforcement), health, roads, solid waste and recycling collection, youth and elderly services, and much more. Connecticut's quality of life during these hard times depends on passing a state budget that protects the quality of life in Hometown Connecticut.
To aid hard-pressed property taxpayers, at CCM's Day on the Hill, municipal officials urged the General Assembly to:
Ensure All Towns and Cities Are Held Harmless
Due to the fact that some state grants are not fully funded, many communities would receive less funding as a result of shifting grant distributions. 69 towns would be cut â€“ many of our poorest, and in significant and harmful ways. CCM urges the Committee to establish a Municipal Aid Adjustment fund to reimburse individual towns and cities that are not held harmless.
Examples of the cuts, which total about $7 million statewide: Hartford (-$2,553,440); New Haven (-$1,216,132); Bridgeport (-$499,830); West Hartford (-$184,922); West Haven (-$157, 126); Hamden (-$146,132); Milford (-$134,934); Mansfield (-$377,178); Newtown (-$45,374) and East Lyme (-$48,100). For more information, please see attached town-by-town list.
Allocate Promised $12.7 Million Revenue Sharing Funds
The proposed deficit mitigation package would eliminate the State's requirement to release $12.7 million in Municipal Revenue Sharing Account (MRSA) funds to towns and cities. This represents a significant mid-year cut. CCM conducted a survey and found that over 50% of towns have included the funding in their current budgets.
For more information, please see attached "MRSA Payment List" for town-by-town numbers.
Reject Resident State Trooper Program Cuts
The budget proposal requiring towns pay 100% of Resident State Trooper costs would be a $40,000 to $500,000 hit to each participating community. Local officials would have to decide whether to continue to participate in the program, or rely on troopers from the barracks to provide necessary public safety. If this occurs, it is unlikely that the State will benefit from the anticipated $4 million savings this proposal forecasts, as troopers will still be required to patrol and respond to incidents in the community.
The Resident State Trooper Program, with its 70/30 funding split, is one of the primary examples of how collaboration and service sharing can be beneficial to the State and its municipalities. Resident State Trooper are often called out of town -- almost 5-8 times per week -- leaving local CEOs with little to no managerial influence on the assignments, beyond their contractual agreements.
Restore Priority School Funding
The budget proposal would cut $6.5 million in Priority Schools Funding. Communities receiving such funding are among the poorest in the State -- and country. This cut has occurred while US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, spoke of education disparities in the country -- and singled out over-reliance on the property tax for public education as a major culprit. Connecticut is the most reliant state in the nation on the property tax to fund prek-12 public education. Despite serious fiscal constraints, the State must rise to the occasion and meet the challenge of properly financing public education. Our state's very future depends on it. Towns should also have a phased-in approach to full-day kindergarten, with grant assistance.
Enact Meaningful Mandates Relief
Meaningful mandates relief goes beyond proposing eliminating smaller administrative mandates. The General Assembly must act on the mandates that cost towns and cities -- and often the State -- millions of dollars.
Mandate Relief Highlight: Legal Notices
In 2015, Connecticut's hometowns can only post legal notices in the back pages of printed newspapers -- putting them online doesn't count. Legal notices reform would save towns millions of dollars. This is an antiquated state law that has out-lived its purpose. The General Assembly should amend this archaic mandate by amending HB 6966 -- to reflect the realities of today's world and to allow towns the option of an alternative means of publishing such notices. An amendment should allow website postings on newspapers' or municipal websites. Otherwise, there would be no assurances of cost-savings.
Say "No" to New State Mandates
There are over 1,200 state mandates imposed on Hometown Connecticut and their residential and business property taxpayers. Unfunded and under-funded state mandates are corrosive elements that deteriorate critical municipal programs and services -- and the bottom-line of municipal budgets. They are burdensome requirements and standards imposed by the State on towns and cities that affect residential and business property taxpayers by imposing significant costs.
Proposed Unfunded State Mandate Highlight: Mental Stress Benefits
SB 902 and SB 593 would mandate workers' compensation for municipal employees having witnessed a death or maiming, or the aftermath of a death or maiming (up to 6 hours), under certain circumstances. "Visually witnessing" "serious bodily injury" and "maiming" are all terms within these proposals that could be subject to broad interpretation and compound the costs of this mandate. The costs for one claim could reach $1 million.
Stormwater MS4 Permit
DEEP's original draft MS4 General Permit would have imposed a $100 million unfunded mandate on towns and cities. While some costly requirements have been removed or reduced, compliance would still cost towns expend tens of millions of dollars. DEEP has not conducted a fiscal impact analysis, or provided any financing to comply with the proposed MS4 requirements.