Municipal leaders argued Monday that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposed cut to the resident trooper program would force property tax hikes, public safety cutbacks, or both.

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, citing new survey results, also projected the 62 communities that use the resident trooper program would lose more than $5 million per year combined under the governor’s proposal.

“For many small towns, this increase would be unsustainable,” CCM wrote in a statement. “Local officials would have to decide whether to continue to participate in the program, or rely on troopers from the barracks to provide necessary public safety.”

The new, two-year state budget Malloy proposed last month would require towns to cover 100 percent of resident trooper program costs, up from the current 70 percent share.

CCM surveyed the 62 communities that would be affected, and 29 towns responded, indicating they would lose an average of $108,017 per year, or $3.1 million in total.

CCM also projected, citing those results, that the total annual impact on all towns would reach $5 million.

The administration has defended this cut, arguing that while tough budget choices must be made, this plan preserves the program. It “still allows the municipalities the flexibility to design the community policing strategies without the expensive infrastructure and administrative costs of running a local (police) department,” the administration wrote in its budget narrative.

But three first selectmen from small, northwestern Connecticut towns told the legislature’s Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee on Monday that the governor’s plan leaves them choices – all of which are bad.

“It definitely would mean a (property) tax increase in our town,” Harwinton First Selectman Michael Criss said, adding that the potential annual loss in state support represents 2 percent of his community’s overall budget.

Criss said he and his local finance board also have discussed cutting one trooper.

“There would definitely be layoffs,” said Litchfield First Selectman Leo Paul, who also wouldn’t rule out a property tax hike.

Barkhamsted First Selectman Donald Stein, who also said tax hikes or layoffs were likely, said communities that reduce their use of resident troopers – or eliminate them entirely – would be less safe.

Though they still would receive protection through the closest state police barracks, the state police there would not be as familiar with a community – and its problems – as a resident trooper would be.

“You lose that continuity, you lose that knowledge,” Stein said. “The public safety would suffer.”

The Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee and the Appropriations Committee will issue their own budget proposals for the next two fiscal years next month.

Shifting Costs for Troopers
The affect on towns if they had to pay the entire cost of resident state troopers
Municipality Increase
Andover $55,375
Barkhamsted $55,000
Beacon Falls $42,127.29
Brooklyn $75,000
Burlington $115,413
Chester $40,329
Colchester $68,559
East Granby $114,800
East Haddam $41,481
East Lyme $45,000
Ellington $263,571
Essex $55,510
Killingly $213,000
Lebanon $39,856.80
Ledyard $60,000
Lisbon $40,000
Middlefield $55,000
Montville $58,978.57
New Fairfield $310,293.42
Norfolk $50,000
North Stonington $143,478
Oxford $300,000
Salem $84,000
Sherman $50,000
Somers $181,826
Sprague 52,360
Tolland $263,000
Westbrook $159,123
Woodbury $99,407
TOTAL $3,132,488
Connecticut Conference of Municipalities

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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