NHCOG Observer Corps Report ~ 3-6/2017

Litchfield County League of Women Voters ══════════════════════════════════════════════════
NHCOG: March thru June, 2017 Meetings @ NHCOG Office-Goshen

While many subjects have been covered over the past months the prime topics for the COG members are budget related.

Education Cost Sharing Grants The state’s Education Cost Sharing (ECS) Grants to schools uses a formula that was originally designed to provide equal educational opportunity by taking into consideration differences in both student need and towns’ ability to pay for education. It is often not fully funded, the factors considered need to be updated and the information needs to be released to match municipal budget cycles.

Teacher Pensions Budget proposals want to shift one-third (1/3) of the cost of funding teacher retirement pensions to municipalities. For the 2018-19 budgets period municipalities would have to pay approximately $407 million. The State has underfunded the pension fund for 70 years and the municipalities feel this burden would be staggering to local budgets.

Resident State Trooper The State wants to require municipalities to pay 100 % of the Resident State Trooper program (Salary and benefits) The towns have no say over which troopers are assigned to them and may have no coverage if troopers are dispatched to a state emergency. A town with one trooper and a constable could see costs rise from approximately from $164,000 to $205,000.

Consolidation Of Health Districts The State Health Commissioner has a draft plan to consolidate the 73 local health departments into eight county health districts. Municipalities would pay an annual fee of 1.5 % of their operating budget. For most towns this would be a significant increase over the current local department fees and they recommend a review of health districts to identify operational deficiencies.
Municipal State Aid Municipalities were supposed to receive about $340 million in sales tax receipts next fiscal year and $350 million in 2018-19. The governor’s revised proposal eliminates more than 80 percent of that promise, $278 million in the first year and $285 million in the second. The revisions also would cut $58 million per year owed municipalities in another revenue-sharing program involving video slot proceeds from the two casinos in southeastern Connecticut. Other new proposals to cut local aid include cuts of:

$20.7 million per year from various grants that reimburse municipalities for a portion of the local tax revenue they lose because state, private college and hospital property is exempt from municipal taxation.

$10 million per year from the Education Cost Sharing grant to local school districts.

$5 million per year for regional councils of government.

Respectfully submitted Bernie Harrington

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