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CCM commission to develop comprehensive grass-roots, property tax relief plan to be pitched directly to voters in the 169 towns and cities next spring through fall

CCM commission to develop comprehensive  grass-roots, property tax relief plan to be pitched directly  to voters in the 169 towns and cities next spring through fall

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Kevin Maloney, (203) 710-3486

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) today (Tuesday, November 12) announced the formation of a new Commission within CCM that will seek to develop — over the next 6 – 9 months — a comprehensive, grass-roots based, property tax relief initiative to be presented directly to Connecticut voters across the 169 towns and cities next spring through fall.

The timing for completing the project and promoting proposals across the state would coincide with the General Assembly election campaigns next fall and the longer, five-month General Assembly session in the first half of 2021.

The first meeting of this Commission took take place on November 7 in Rocky Hill.

“Mayors and first selectmen know of the challenges managing a community during these tough economic times,” said Joe DeLong, CCM Executive Director. “One of those challenges is operating in a state where you have to contend with the third highest property tax rate in the country. Looking for ways to examine solutions for Connecticut’s property taxpayers is the intention of CCM’s new Commission on Property Tax Reform.”

“The charge of the Commission is to examine ways to improve the delivery of local services in a cost-effective and property taxpayer-focused manner,” Delong noted. “The Commission will examine structural changes needed to make towns and cities — thus the State — more economically viable, and more attractive places to call home, work and run a business.”

The Commission is expected to meet through the spring to develop recommendations. Afterwards, CCM will launch an intensive grassroots campaign to inform the public of the Commission’s recommendations, to ensure that meaningful property tax reform is a major part of the 2020 General Assembly election campaign, and that real action occurs after the election.

The CCM Commission’s work will be guided by three principal consultant groups:

Center for State and Local Finance at Georgia State University; The Center for State and Local Finance connects policymakers, practitioners and academics in public finance through innovative policy research and consulting, as well as premier executive education for state and local leaders. They are among the best in the nation in Public Finance and Budgeting and Local Government Management according to U.S. News & World Report, advising tax reform commissions and policymakers in Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Washington D.C.

Dr. Jorge Martinez, Regents Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for State and Local Finance at Georgia State University. Martinez frequently works with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and published two books with them on Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Property Tax (2010) and Making the Property Tax Work (2008). He has worked on extensive tax reform review projects for the states of Georgia and Ohio. Wheeler’s research interests include state and local taxation, economic development, state and local revenue forecasting, and corporate taxation.

Dr. Laura Wheeler, Senior Research Associate with Center for State and Local Finance at Georgia State University. She has produced Georgia’s tax expenditure report for many years, developed a local tax expenditure report, conducts local government forecasts, and prepares numerous fiscal analyses for the members of the Georgia General Assembly.

The Edward Collins Center for Public Management at UMASS – Boston’s McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies: The Center is dedicated to improving efficiency, effectiveness, governance, and accountability at all levels of government, with a particular focus on state and local government. Taking on over 80 projects per year, the center provides a comprehensive set of services to over 160 towns and cities in Massachusetts, and a growing number of municipalities in other states. They rely on analytical methodology and specialists with in-depth expertise in municipal finance, human resources, public works, planning and economic development, among others to build a strong reputation in municipal management.

Michael Ward, Director of Municipal Services for the Edward Collins Center for Public Management at UMASS-Boston’s McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies. Ward practices in the areas of municipal performance management efforts, organizational studies, research projects, regionalization and service-sharing work, and charter reform. He co-founded and currently manages the Collins Center’s Government Analytics Program. As a budget analyst for the Town of Concord, he helped the Town begin integrating performance measurement into its annual budget process.

Pro Bono Public Pension in Tuscumbia, Alabama: Pro Bono Public Pensions (PBPP) is a unique consulting service to states, municipalities, current employees, retirees and taxpayers. A completely independent organization, their team includes two lawyers, two Ph.D. economists, a former Acting Chief of the Social Security Administration, a former Chief Investment Advisor for the North Carolina pubic pension system, a CPA, a current public employee, a public retiree, two of the five individuals chosen (out of 44,000) to participate in a forum on creative public pension solutions at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and a 2016 Fellow at the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative.

Gordon Hamlin, President of Pro Bono Public Pension in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Hamlin is a Harvard Law School trained attorney. His firm, Pro Bono Public Pensions, consults on retirement issues across the country. He has consulted with State of Kentucky to discuss ways to resolve the state’s pension crisis He also specialized in antitrust and consumer law for a large Atlanta firm. From 1989 to 1996, he represented Kentucky’s public school districts in milk bid-rigging cases that resulted $15 million being returned to those schools. 

Municipal leaders serving back to top

Here are the Connecticut local officials serving on the CCM commission:

Michael Freda, First Selectman of North Haven

Kurt Miller, First Selectman of Seymour

Susan Bransfield, First Selectwoman of Portland

Neil O'Leary, Mayor of Waterbury

Thomas Dunn, Mayor of Wolcott

David Martin, Mayor of Stamford

Luke Bronin, Mayor of Hartford

Michael Passero, Mayor, New London

Ken Flatto, Finance Director, Bridgeport

Matt Knickerbocker, First Selectman of Bethel

Paula Cofrancesco, First Selectman of Bethany

Matt Hoey, First Selectman of Guilford

Ed Mone, First Selectman of Thomaston

Barbara Perkinson, First Selectman of Woodbury

Lauren Gister, First Selectwoman of Chester

John Ward, Town Manager of Granby

David McBride, Director of Finance for New London

Tracey Hanson, First Selectman of Voluntown

Carl Fortuna, First Selectman of Old Saybrook

Mark Nickerson, First Selectman of East Lyme

Don Stein, First Selectman of Barkhamsted

John Elsesser, Town Manager of Coventry

Laura Francis, First Selectman of Durham

James Cosgrove, First Selectman of Branford

Jayme Stevenson, First Selectman of Darien

Robert Lee, Town Manager of Plainville

Brandon Robertson, Town Manager of Avon

Michael Pollard, Chief of Staff for Stamford

David Easton, First Selectman of Union

Ricard Johnson, Town Manager of Glastonbury

John Filchak, Executive Director, Northeastern CT Council of Governments

Sam Gold, Executive Director, CT River Council of Governments

Carl Amento, Executive Director, South Central CT Council of Governments

Rick Dunne, Executive Director, Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments

Francis Pickering, Executive Director, Western CT Council of Governments

Lyle Wray, Executive Director, Capitol Region Council of Governments

Betsy Gara, Executive Director, CT Council of Small Towns

 ***

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 under-funded 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 great majority of local funding — the property tax.

CCM is working closely with towns to encourage regional cooperative efforts that towns can agree on voluntarily on and that return the greatest savings. 

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. According to the Tax Foundation, the per-capita property tax burden in Connecticut was $2,927 in FY 16, an amount that is almost twice the national average of $1,556 — and third highest in the nation.