OP-ED | What CCM Means by ‘Collaborating for the Common Good’

CT News Junkie, January 20, 2016

by Joe DeLong, CCM Executive Director

From various populations and geography, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities — CCM — brings together municipal officials to collectively discuss the issues that face Connecticut towns and cities. Our 158 member towns and cities are partners toward the common goal of serving our residents, learning from each other, offering new ideas and solutions, along with collaborating for the common good in order to achieve the goal of a stronger, more vibrant Connecticut.

CCM facilitates various partnerships and collaborations. Whether Democrat, Republican, or Independent, live in a suburban, rural, or urban community, CCM explores public policy objectives for the common good. CCM is the catalyst in ensuring that the collective aspirations are met. We strive for a stronger educational system, for safer streets, for strong infrastructure, for high quality jobs, and for better opportunities to efficiently meet the needs of taxpayers.

While Connecticut may be known as the land of steady habits, it is at the local government level where we are able to embrace change in order to obtain meaningful efficiencies, promote sustainability, and identify pathways that will make our State a better place to live and work. CCM is constantly looking to evolve, and embrace new approaches to address the ever-changing issues that face municipalities. CCM is not a party of “no” or a blockade against change. Rather, CCM seeks meaningful and balanced solutions that take into account the potential impact on all local governments.

The new approaches that CCM is undertaking will offer enhanced services and tools to promote a brighter future for the State. In doing so, we are collaborating with the public service community, our firefighters and police officers, along with leadership within the General Assembly to find common solutions on a variety of issues. Specifically, CCM is meeting with a representative group of firefighters to discuss coverage benefits to those recently diagnosed with cancer. We are working with police officers to ensure when they face emotional and traumatic experiences on our streets, that they have the resources to overcome those experiences.

We strive to collaborate with elected officials on state legislation that helps to bring municipal efficiencies without negatively impacting the municipal bottom line, such as consolidating dispatch centers, enhancing regionalism efforts, and bringing environmental and energy issues into the evolving world. CCM understands that there can be added value to reach agreement, and collaboration in these efforts will help each of our communities.

However, in doing so, CCM is ensuring that the solutions do not negatively impact municipal social and fiscal longevity. Beyond working in partnership on legislative issues, in November of 2015, CCM collaborated with Connecticut’s business and labor groups to examine ways that business, government, labor, education, and social service could find common and productive pathways for Connecticut’s economic future. The event, BEST (Bringing Every Stakeholder Together), co-sponsored by CCM, the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA), and the Connecticut AFL-CIO was an opportunity to remove political barriers and focus on common solutions to help propel Connecticut forward. The work of the summit’s participants resulted in the recommendation of over 20 key policy proposals for state leaders to consider.

CCM also recently released a new public policy report that presents key examples of voluntary regional collaborative efforts across the state. The report catalogues the existing state statutes that enable regional cooperation among towns and regions; and calls on the State to take specific legislative steps to further foster voluntary regional efforts by towns and cities, in order to provide municipal services more efficiently and save residential and business property taxpayers money.

The report presents illustrative regional efforts in such areas as health, energy, economic development, public safety, environment, equipment sharing, police services, revaluation, recreation trails, seniors, social services and youth services. And CCM is calling on the State to take some key additional steps, such as developing model regional cooperation codes; increasing state financial and other incentives for cost-effective inter-municipal and regional cooperation; empowering Councils of Government to deliver services on a regional basis; reinvesting in planning and technical assistance capacity at OPM; eliminating the red tape and bureaucratic obstacles with state entities that thwart municipalities’ ability to engage in regional cooperation efforts; and making greater staffing investments in entities like the Connecticut Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations.

In 2015, CCM underwent a strategic realignment that has enriched the organization to be a conference for collective ideas, and allow us to develop common solutions. We gather the various municipal associations - the municipal assessors, tax collectors, zoning officials and others serving in municipal government, throughout the State to collectively work together on important legislative proposals. We look for opportunities for long sought-after municipal reform and to ensure that the interests of municipalities and citizens are protected. Make no mistake, CCM realizes that there are challenges ahead.

However, it is the strength of CCM, through its members and those that we partner with, to be resolute in collaborating to find common ground and help Connecticut move forward - socially and financially. We are not divided, but united in the trust and common goals to make Connecticut a better place. These goals can be accomplished through a variety of means. These include CCM’s valuable advocacy efforts, the tools and services the organization provides, but most importantly the collaboration of working together toward common solutions.

Joe DeLong is the Executive Director of CCM, which is Connecticut’s largest nonpartisan, statewide association of towns and cities, representing 158 member municipalities. CCM’s goal is to improve everyday life for every Connecticut residents by sharing best practices and objective research to help our local leaders govern wisely. CCM advocates at the state level for issues affecting local taxpayers, and pools its buying power to negotiate more cost-effective services for communities.

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