CCM panel ramping up for comprehensive policy development on municipal fiscal operations and regional service delivery

CCM panel ramping up for comprehensive policy development on municipal fiscal operations and regional service delivery

Monday, August 29, 2016

Kevin Maloney, (203) 710-3486

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) today (Monday, August 29) announced the formation of a new State-Local Partnership Panel within CCM that will seek to develop a comprehensive package of legislative initiatives for the 2017 General Assembly designed to break new ground on municipal fiscal operations and regional service delivery among Connecticut’s 169 towns and cities.

The four-month mission of this new task force – explored through two subcommittees – will focus on Property Tax and Local Revenue Diversification and Regional Service Delivery. They are charged with developing proposed statewide policies that govern the delivery and financing of municipal services, with a lens on (A) expanding the work of the 2015 State Tax Panel, as the study related to municipal fiscal operations; and (B) maximizing inter-municipal cooperation opportunities.

The panel, which is being spearheaded by Mark Boughton, Mayor of Danbury and CCM President, will present its findings in a comprehensive report that will be released in December in advance of the 2017 General Assembly Session, slated to begin on January 4, 2017.

“As one can see from the breadth and range of issues to be tackled, this panel has ambitious goals that must be met in less than 120 days,” said Joe DeLong, CCM Executive Director. “We are not looking for another study that will be filed on an office shelf.”

“We are seeking to develop a legislative action plan that can be implemented by the 2017 General Assembly and designed to change the course of events in Connecticut towns and cities starting in July 2017 in terms of municipal funding and local service efficiencies,” said CCM President Boughton.

Panel members and property tax burden back to top

Here are the panel members:

  • Mark Boughton, Mayor of Danbury and CCM President
  • Jeff Bridges, Town Manager of Wethersfield
  • Luke Bronin, Mayor of Hartford
  • John Elsesser, Town Manager of Coventry
  • Michael Freda, First Selectman of North Haven
  • Toni Harp, Mayor of New Haven
  • Matt Hart, Town Manager of Mansfield
  • Deb Hinchey, Mayor of Norwich
  • Marcia Leclerc, Mayor of East Hartford
  • David Martin, Mayor of Stamford
  • Neil O’Leary, Mayor of Waterbury
  • Leo Paul, First Selectman of Litchfield
  • Erin Stewart, Mayor of New Britain
  • Joseph Ganim, Mayor of Bridgeport
  • Robert Lee, Town Manager of Plainville
  • Elinor Carbone, Mayor of Torrington
  • Lisa Heavner, First Selectman of Simsbury
  • Lisa Spielman, First Selectman of Elllington
  • Daniel Syme, First Selectman of Scotland
  • Michael Tetreau, First Selectman of Fairfield
  • Susan Bransfield, First Selectwoman of Portland

The panel’s work will be guided by Lawrence Walters, Emeritus Professor of Public Management and Policy at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. Most recently, Walters was retained by the 2015 Connecticut General Assembly as the principal investigator for a study on business personal property and registered motor vehicle taxes in Connecticut.

Over the course of a 30-plus year career, Walters has been retained by state governments across the country, as well as other nations, to examine a wide range of state and local funding, revenue diversification, and service delivery issues.

In addition to Dr. Walter’s expertise, the CCM panel will also be drawing heavily on resources from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, leading economists and other experts on these issues across the country.

The funding section of the CCM study will build on the recent 2015 State Tax Panel study to explore and recommend a strategy for increasing local government revenue autonomy without adding further strain on the property tax. The service efficiency report will examine regional and inter-local opportunities for increased cooperation and efficiency improvements, and may consider other options as well.

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Towns and cities in Connecticut are responsible for providing the majority of public services in our state: preK-12 education; public safety; roads and other infrastructure; elderly and youth services; other social services; recreation; and wastewater treatment, among others. They must do so while meeting numerous mandates, often underfunded or unfunded, from both the federal and state governments.

Funding for these critical local public services can come from various sources, including taxes, user fees and charges, revenue sharing, and state and federal aid. In Connecticut, however, there is one revenue source that provides the majority of local funding - the property tax.

The property tax is the single largest tax on residents and businesses in our state. The property tax is income-blind and profit-blind. It is due and payable whether a resident has a job or not, or whether a business turns a profit or not. The per capita property tax burden in Connecticut is $2,522, an amount that is almost twice the national average of $1,434 - and 3rd highest in the nation. And Connecticut ranks 8th in property taxes paid as a percentage of median home value.