Northwest Hills Council of Governments
NHCOG Legislative Committee Meeting Thursday 10am-11:15 AM 12.29.16 @ NHCOG Office-Goshen This was a special meeting of this sub –committee of the COG. The objective was to establish priorities to present to the legislators during the January-June session. Attending: Michael Criss from Harwinton & Chairman, Barbara Henry from Roxbury, Robert Valentine from Goshen, Gordon Ridgway from Cornwall, Donald Stein from Barkhamsted & Leo Paul of Litchfield.
MUNICIPAL AID : The committee agreed that a major objective would be to maintain the current level of municipal aid into 2017. This aid includes grants for educational cost sharing, town road projects, and town capital & economic assistance programs.
(On Friday the Governor set up $20 million cuts to Educational Cost Sharing and is seeking a $30 million cut in local infrastructure projects).
PREVAILING WAGE: Since 1991 the prevailing wage (state wide union rates for trades) applied to projects over $100,000 for facility alterations and $400,000 for new construction. The committee wants to raise the threshold to $1 million on all projects and have it indexed for inflation. They believe it would encourage local contractors to bid on projects and reduce project costs by 20% or more.
MUNICIPAL SPENDING CAPS : In 2015 the General Assembly required towns to keep their annual budget increases to 2.5%. They feel this undermines local control and should be repealed.
STATE MANDATES: The Committee generally would like the elimination or exemption from state mandates. The MBR (Minimum Budget Requirement) for school districts was mentioned but details were not discussed.
PRESENCE & MEETING IN HARTFORD: Committee members said they needed more of the 21 members of the COG to appear in Hartford to testify throughout the legislative session. To increase their impact they suggested monthly meetings with local legislators and joining with the Naugatuck Valley COG in giving testimony.