Local officials who fared well in Gov. Dannel Malloy’s budget posed their lingering concerns to lawmakers Thursday about pending policy issues that may affect local budgets and property taxes.
One of those issues posed at a forum sponsored by the Council of Small Towns was how the state planned to tackle the ramifications of a new bill approved Tuesday that required towns to pay the full cost of overtime pays for resident state troopers.
Fifty-nine towns starting July 1 will have to pay 100 percent of costs for overtime and the full cost of fringe benefits when resident state troopers work overtime.
The current law states the towns pay 70 percent of overtime and the state pays 30 percent of the overtime and fringe costs.
“If they are called to respond to an accident and go into overtime, the money to pay them comes from the town,” said Litchfield First Selectman Leo Paul Jr.
Paul said though it may not seem like a great deal of money, overtime costs could accumulate to upwards of $25,000.
Gian-Carl Casa, undersecretary of legislative affairs for the Office of Policy and Management, had little to say to reassure town officials there was a solution in sight.
“Are we perfect? No. Are there things in this budget we wish we didn’t have to do? Absolutely,” said Casa.
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman also had few words of comfort to offer small towns already struggling to make cuts to their budgets. “I don’t know what to tell you to be honest with you,” said Wyman.
Sen. President Donald Williams said Malloy’s budget plan cut money only where Connecticut could stand to take losses. “Governor Malloy has an honest, though, balanced budget proposal,” said Williams.
Williams argued that in comparison to other, states such as California that cut $20 million in education funding, Connecticut has maintained funding to the most important programs.
“Are things perfect in the state of Connecticut, of course not,” said Williams.
Bolton First Selectman Robert Marra voiced concerns as to what would happen next year if revenue does not meet the projected expectations.
Casa said the state did not believe that would be happen, but the unions have yet to ratify the $1.6 billion concession package and Casa’s boss has yet to reveal where the administration will cut the $400 million it needs in order to balance the budget.
Wyman reassured town officials that cutting funding to municipalities was something she did not wish to see happen.
“Governor Malloy and I still have the same goal, that money is not cut and is going back to cities and towns,” said Wyman.
But Malloy and his budget director have refused to take anything off the table as they decide where to cut an additional $400 million.
Other issues voiced by local officials concerned the specific steps the state was taking to help with mandate relief.
“We asked for relief not to be knee deep,” said Roxbury First Selectman and COST President Barbara Henry
Casa said nothing was currently on the horizon. “I don’t see anything major happening, but it is an issue.”