CCM Presents Initial Assessment of Enacted State Budget and 2019 General Assembly Session
For immediate release
Friday, June 7, 2019
Contact: Kevin Maloney (203) 710-3486
The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) today, (Friday, June 7) said it truly appreciates that the enacted state budget does help provide some real restraint on property taxes by (1) not mandating that cities and towns share a portion -- $73 million -- of the state’s teacher pension costs; and (2) boosting education cost sharing funding for towns by $37.6 million in the first year and $78 million in the second year of the state budget.
CCM has long advocated -- in this session and past sessions -- for greater state actions to help reduce the dependency on the most regressive and largest tax in Connecticut -- the property tax.
CCM will continue to advocate for a comprehensive approach for property tax reform that would provide (1) local revenue diversification, (2) cost containment measures -- meaningful relief from unfunded state mandates, and (3) greater ability for towns to work together to provide services regionally to save taxpayer dollars.
Other good news for towns and cities:
- The minimum budget requirement (MBR) for local public education has been modified to expand a town’s authority to reduce its MBR under specified conditions, to achieve cost-savings. This legislation resulted from pointed discussions CCM municipal leaders had with the Governor’s Office.
- CCM played a major role in negotiating groundbreaking Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) benefits for police and firefighters through the workers’ compensation system, with key cost controls for towns negotiated by CCM while enhancing the treatment and training of municipal first responders.
- Municipal Employees’ Retirement System (MERS) reform -- To bring greater cost-sharing to the retirement systems, the state will increase the contribution of municipal employees by .5 percent each year through 2024, increasing their contribution from 5.5 percent to 8 percent.
- The local motor vehicle tax will remain as is, with no changes. That is worth nearly $900 million in critical revenues for towns.
- A portion of the current year state budget surplus -- $381 million -- will be used to shore up and to re-amortize the Teachers’ Pension Fund.
- The State’s Rainy day Fund has been increased to $2 billion (an all-time high). That will help protect against future cuts in state aid and other state services.
- Plastic Bag Ban -- This legislation will help achieve savings for municipal recycling and is set to begin in 2021. Single-use plastic bags are a major headache and cost factor for recycling operations. Towns may still enact local ordinances banning the use of single-use plastic bag as long as the ordinance is at least as restrictive or more restrictive than state law.
- Pension Offset -- CCM successfully killed State Senate Bill 660, which would have allowed municipal employees to collect their full pension while at the same time collect full workers compensation benefits. SB 660 would have resulted in a significant cost to municipalities that offer defined benefit retirement plans by eliminating pension offset provisions that have been collectively bargained.
Other concerns back to top
Other issues of concern:
- Stormwater Fees -- This bill passed the House, but was not called in the Senate. Towns and cities will not be able to assess stormwater fees related to the cost of MS4 compliance.
The bill also included other provisions that CCM supported such as:
-- Requiring OPM to conduct a study of PILOT payments in respect to towns with more than 50% of its land with State Forests;
-- Requiring DECD to the study the current property tax exemption for Manufacturing Machinery and Equipment and to evaluate the impact of limiting the number of years such equipment would eligible for the exemption and;
-- Creating an opt-out process for municipalities that have designated Enterprise Zones.
- Bottle Bill -- This issue has been referred for further study to a State Task Force. The original bill would expanded CT’s bottle deposit system by increasing the deposit fee on most juice, tea and sports or energy drink containers in addition to beer and soda cans and bottles.
- Prepared Food Tax -- This tax was enacted, but the revenue will not be diverted back to municipalities, as first proposed, but will go into the State’s General Fund.