CCM Publishes First Report In Its “Election Campaign 2018” Series, Unfunded State Mandates: The Corrosive Impact on Property Taxpayers
For immediate release
Kevin Maloney, (203) 710-3486
The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) today (Monday, September 17) released the first report of CCM’s “Election Campaign 2018” series — Unfunded State Mandates: The Corrosive Impact on Property Taxpayers — which concludes, among other key findings, (1) that there are now over 1,300 statutorily required state mandates (an all-time high, including nearly 60 more new mandates enacted over the last two years) on Connecticut local governments in FY 2018-19; and yet (2) targeted relief from onerous unfunded state mandates (see recommended actions below) would provide significant cost savings for property taxpayers and municipal budgets.
CCM’s “Election Campaign 2018” series is designed to educate and influence the candidates for Governor and the General Assembly on the key state-local issues affecting Connecticut local governments. This new CCM report assesses, in detail, the major issues regarding unfunded state mandates on towns and cities; as well as discusses the adequacy of state policies now in place ─ and those proposed ─ that are designed to provide sufficient fiscal relief from these mandates on Connecticut municipalities.
“There are currently over 1,300 state mandates that directly impact towns and cities, resulting in increased local costs and higher property taxes throughout Connecticut,” said Joe DeLong, CCM Executive Director. “Most of these state mandates are underfunded or completely unfunded. This forces local governments to increase property taxes to cover the costs of these mandates, reduce or eliminate local services, or cancel or limit needed infrastructure improvements. When local leaders are required to make the tough decisions to pay for these mandates, the property tax burden is borne by residents and businesses.”
Reasonable solutions back to top
There are reasonable solutions that the State can and should enact to reduce the costly burden of these unfunded and under-funded state mandates:
- Prohibit municipal fund balances (essentially “emergency contingency funds”) from inclusion when determining municipalities’ ability to pay.
- Adjust the mandated employee contribution rates, under MERS and establish a new tier, modeled after the State’s Tier III, for new hires only.
- Provide meaningful relief from the Minimum Budget Requirement (MBR). Education costs account for 60-80% of municipal budgets and the MBR eliminates or reduces any incentive to reduce costs and increase efficiencies.
- Modify state-mandates compulsory binding arbitration laws.
- Update the renovation and repair threshold that triggers the prevailing wage mandate for public construction projects from $100,000 to $500,000. Last year, municipalities successfully advocated for an increase in the new construction trigger from $400,000 to $1,000,000. A modest adjustment in the threshold for renovations and repairs would free-up state and local dollars and help municipalities jumpstart and expand projects.
- Eliminate the health insurance premium tax on municipalities, which is currently a 1.75% tax on fully insured municipalities.
- Allow towns and their boards and commissions the option to publish legal notices online. It is common sense and will improve citizens’ involvement in the operation of local government. Plus this is how residents primarily obtain their news about what is going on in their town or city.
“Local officials are on the frontlines of service delivery and accept the objectives of many well-intended mandates,” said DeLong. “The solutions proposed by CCM are attainable — and such solutions should be addressed by detailing the most egregious offenders in desperate need of repair. This report outlines the difficulty with specific mandates, as they relate to our hometowns, and more importantly, provides considerable means of compromise in order to jumpstart meaningful property tax relief in our communities.”
As the 2018 campaign season continues to heat up, CCM will issue a range of public policy candidate bulletins highlighting key state-local issues for candidates to address in the thick of the election season. The bulletins are relied upon by incumbent lawmakers and challengers alike, municipal chief executives, and other state and federal leaders, and are designed to educate policy-makers on solutions to key state-local issues.
Here are the other major issues CCM will analyze and provide key information on in the coming weeks of the campaign on to educate state legislators, state officials, federal office seekers, local leaders, and the general public:
- Prek-12 Public Education
- Public Pension Liabilities
- Property Tax Reform
- Build Vibrant Communities
In addition to these important issue reports, CCM will also undertake a series of other actions to get information out to the general public:
The responses to comprehensive questionnaires for (1) all candidates for Governor and (2) for all candidates for the General Assembly will be published by CCM online and in key CCM publications; provided to all Connecticut news media; and spread across the social media platforms of CCM and those of its member towns and cities.
A “2018 Election Campaign” page will be established on the CCM website — ccm-ct.org — consisting of contact information and other information regarding fall elections; and
Municipal chief executive officials will be provided with the questionnaire answers for the state legislative candidates for their region to highlight locally.