Chief elected officials from 10 cities and towns will meet for the first time Thursday morning to talk about how to cut $84 million in municipal aid.
The panel was created last week when Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell unveiled her deficit mitigation plan, which asks the General Assembly to cut $337 million from the state budget. But instead of forcing lawmakers to make all the tough decisions, Rell created a 12 member panel to decide where to make the municipal aid cuts.
Rell made six appointments to the board Tuesday and the remaining six were made by legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle.
Rell appointed Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, East Hartford Mayor Melody Currey, Vernon Mayor Jason McCoy, Somers First Selectwoman Lisa Pellegrini, and Portland First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield. House Republicans appointed Rep. John Frey, R-Ridgefield, and Senate Republicans appointed Sen. Robert Kane, R-Watertown. Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, appointed New Haven Mayor John DeStefano and Senate President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, appointed Mansfield Mayor Betsy Paterson. House Speaker Chris Donovan appointed Ansonia Mayor James Della Volpe and House Majority Leader Denise Merrill appointed Sprague First Selectwoman Catherine Osten.
“Our municipal leaders have been on the front line of this fiscal crisis and know better than anyone how devastating this recession has been,” Rell said Tuesday in a press release. “Their input is essential as everyone in Connecticut – families, businesses and government – cope with a still volatile economy.”
But the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, the chief lobbying arm for cities and towns, doesn’t think it’s fair to ask municipalities for further cuts.
In an interview last week Finley said the $84 million in cuts Rell has requested is on top of the $50 million reduction in state aid that local leaders have already had to absorb this year.
He said the cuts will be difficult to find and may call for local leaders to go back to the taxpayers for more money.
The governor does not have the power to reduce municipal aid without the legislature’s approval and Finley said his organization would advise them against it.
Rell’s newly created task force will meet 10 a.m., Thursday in Room 2D at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.