“You can’t continue with the way we’ve been funding local government” -- Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, president of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities CT Mirror file photo
Bridgeport Mayor and CCM President Bill Finch
Bridgeport Mayor and CCM President Bill Finch CT Mirror file photo

Connecticut’s cities and towns hope to reclaim their share of state sales tax revenues when the 2014 General Assembly session convenes next week.

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities unveiled a legislative agenda Monday that also includes:

  • Continued reforms of the Education Cost Sharing grant program;
  • Increase funding for early childhood education;
  • Expand incentives for multi-town collaboration to provide regional services;
  • Waive the required publishing of legal notices in newspapers, provided communities post them on their Internet sites;
  • Reform binding arbitration and prevailing wage laws;
  • And, give cities and towns greater flexibility to defer property revaluations.

“The depth of the gubernatorial and legislative commitment to towns, cities and regions is key to Connecticut’s successful economic recovery,” said Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, who is CCM president. “Healthy towns, cities and regions are where job creation and economic development occur.”

CCM praised Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the 2011 legislature when they closed a $3.7 billion projected gap in the 2011-12 state budget without reducing municipal aid.

That spending plan also granted communities – for the first time in state history – a share of state tax revenues. Specifically, it granted cities and towns about $90 million in total, each year, from state sales and real estate conveyance tax receipts.

Municipal leaders have argued for more than a decade that their communities need new sources of revenue to reduce their reliance on property taxes.

But as Malloy and legislators tried to avoid raising taxes last spring when they enacted the current budget, they stopped sharing the revenue. In its place, state officials agreed to borrow about $56 million per year and distribute that to communities.

“CCM urges the governor and the General Assembly to stay the right course and continue to avoid balancing the state budget on the backs of municipalities and their property taxpayers,” added CCM policy director Ron Thomas.

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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