This Report is Different
It is clear that the uncertainty coming out of Washington DC, coupled with the state’s financial problems as depicted in Governor Malloy’s recent budget proposal, means local leaders can’t rely on the same levels of financial assistance that have traditionally been available.
Nor can they simply turn to the property tax for help; our property taxes are among the highest in the nation, and local taxpayers are already stretched way too thin.
So what can be done? A lot, actually. Beginning with finding a new way forward.
That’s why the report CCM released in late January is so important; it’s indeed different. It contains new ideas that, if implemented, will help free towns and cities from the vagaries of state aid, and the harsh burden of the regressive property tax. This report provides a roadmap for municipalities to have greater control over their own destinies: new decision-making authority, new sources of funding. Together, that would allow them to rely more on themselves and less on others.
To view the Executive Summary of the Report, click here.
Click here to read the full report.
Be sure to follow the hashtag #ThisIsDifferentCT
Report Facts back to top
- The state economy grew by 17% between 2006 and 2015, yet state expenditures grew by 48.9% during the same period.
- Towns in CT are not large compared to other states. State and local government employment as a percentage of private sector employment ranked 41st compared to other states in 2015.
- Excluding K-12 education, local general government expenditures in CT rank 50th out of all states as a percentage of the U.S. Treasury’s measure of total taxable resources. Local education spending ranks 25th.
- State and Federal payments to local governments are lower in CT than in most other states.
View of Municipal Officials back to top
Governments in Connecticut stand at a crossroads. For over a decade prior to the Great Recession, governments in the state benefited from a strong economy and stable revenues. But this stability has depended crucially on the local property tax and reliable and adequate state aid. The lack of diversity in revenue sources and uncertainty at the state level are now eroding the capacity of local governments to meet their obligations to the public.
Mark Boughton, Mayor Danbury said, "I have no interest in raising taxes. What I like about this report are two things: it’s different, and if we’re able to turn some of these ideas into laws I believe we’ll be able to help reduce property taxes at the local level. I look forward to participating in a robust, very public debate about the ideas included in this document."
"These initiatives are clearly different", noted Deb Hinchey, Mayor of Norwich. "They would break the mold and reset the relationship between the state and local governments. They are long overdue."
"The detailed proposals clearly show that town and city leaders can think outside the box and offer real changes that will benefit Connecticut taxpayers across the State," John Elsesser, Town Manager of Coventry, emphasized.
New Municipal Tools back to top
Here are a few examples of some new municipal tools that the report calls for:
- Removing service sharing arrangements as a subject of collective bargaining; state law should be changed so that interlocal agreements or service sharing contracts involving two or more municipalities will override any participating municipality’s charter.
- Allowing general government more control over education expenditures and boards of education; and amending the Municipal Employee Retirement System (MERS) to establish an additional retirement plan for new hires.
- Expanding the sales tax base by repealing 10% of the exemptions for selected consumption categories; reducing the state sales tax rate by 0.75% to 5.60%; and levying a statewide local sales tax at the rate of 1%.
- Changing state law and permit municipalities to require on-going fees for the use of the public rights of way.
- Requiring property owners of properties subject to state PILOT reimbursement to pay the difference between the state’s statutory PILOT rate and the amount towns actually receive in state PILOT payments, up to 20 percent of the mill rate.
- Requiring property assessment services be consolidated and/or shared in Connecticut regions for assessment offices servicing less than 15,000 parcels.
Digital Edition back to top
Communities on the State-Local Partnership Panel back to top
Here are all the communities represented on the CCM panel that put together the report:
Bolton, Bridgeport, Coventry, Danbury, East Hartford, Ellington, Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield, Mansfield, New Britain, New Haven, North Haven, Norwich, Plainville, Portland, Scotland, Simsbury, Stamford, Torrington, Wethersfield, and Waterbury.