Muni Leaders Make Last-Minute Funding Plea As State Revenues Drop
Town executives sought Wednesday morning to discourage lawmakers from looking at municipal aid as they work to craft a budget based on lower-than-expected tax revenues.
“The last thing that should be done — something that actually should not be done — is to continue to further weaken our cities by any additional cuts to municipal aid,” Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said at a Connecticut Conference of Municipalities press conference.
Segarra, a Democrat, called the budget proposed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in February “very conservative.” He said it contained essentially flat funding for towns, who have adopted their own budgets based on those funding levels.
But revenue estimates have dropped by “hundreds of millions” of dollars, according to Malloy’s Budget Secretary Benjamin Barnes. The exact reduction in revenue will not be known until consensus estimates are released later Wednesday. But policymaker will spend the remaining week of the legislative session negotiating a budget based on new fiscal realities.
Although Malloy has already been forced to abandon some of his own proposals, including a $55 tax refund, CCM wants municipal aid off the chopping block as lawmakers look to make up the remaining shortfall.
“All 169 towns have prepared their budgets. If there was a reduction of municipal aid, everything would be in a state of flux and we really just can’t have that,” Somers First Selectwoman Lisa Pellegrini said. “[A change] will create a commotion that will be unbelievable.”
In Somers, she said a reduction in municipal aid would result in “significant increases” in local property tax rates. Pellegrini, a Republican, said her residents are more worried about their local tax rates than they are about receiving a one-time tax refund from the state.
The municipal leaders also urged lawmakers to pass legislation to reduce mandates on towns. As with previous years, CCM is seeking passage of a bill reducing the amount of information towns must pay to print in newspapers in the form of legal notices. The concept is opposed by the state’s daily newspapers, who say it reduces government transparency.
The municipal group is lobbying against legislation allowing first responders who witness tragic events to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits as well as a bill expanding a ban on pesticide use at local schools.