One day before Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is expected to give a “major public policy address” to the state’s largest municipal lobbying group, lawmakers got to work analyzing the state’s municipal grant calculations.
The newly formed 10-member task force on the Distribution of State Aid to Municipalities met Monday to discuss how they will go about evaluating funding formulas for several municipal grants, such as the Pequot and Mohegan grant and PILOT, which reimburses municipalities for a portion of the tax loss on exempted property.
A chart handed out at the meeting shows how many components are taken into consideration when distributing at least four of the state’s grants. When it comes to the Pequot Mohegan grant everything from a Grand List, per capita income, median household income, mill rates, and prior year expenditures are figured into the equation. Even more components are figured into the Education Cost Sharing grant, which is generally the largest grant all 169 municipalities receive.
Jim Finley, executive director and CEO of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, said the task force will be looking at data that’s old or obsolete and is continued to be used in municipal funding formulas.
“A number of these grant reimbursement programs have been chronically underfunded,“ Finley said. The task force is expected to look at “what that’s meant for towns and cities and what it’s meant for property taxpayers.”
Despite a $3.5 billion state budget deficit, Malloy largely protected municipal aid overall for the next two fiscal years.
Overall, municipal aid is increased by about 3.3 percent in fiscal year 2012 and it also includes a 1.5 percent increase in education funding. Non-education funding increased about 13.3 percent in fiscal year 2012 when compared with this fiscal year, according to CCM .
Sen. Toni Harp, D-New Haven, who will co-chair the task force, said when the legislature convenes next year they will ask for an extension. At the moment the task force is supposed to conclude its work by Jan. 1. 2012. However, given the task in front of it and given that municipal funding will remain flat through the next fiscal year it will ask for more time.
“I think it’s really important for us to at least be the group that says we’re going to look at the funding and we’re going to figure out what’s equitable,” Harp said Monday.
She said whatever the task force recommends may not be what the General Assembly ends up adopting, but somebody has to do the hard work of putting it all together. She said they’re going to look at all the funding formulas and will be starting with the Pequot and PILOT formulas.
The work is expected to be completed in 2013.
“If we’re far enough along then municipalities can kind of get prepared for something different,” Harp said.
Municipal officials from all over the state will converge on the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford Wednesday to hear from their past president and former mayor.
Malloy will give the keynote address at 10 a.m. and his speech will be followed by a roundtable with a handful of his commissioners. Starting at 2 p.m. there will be a series of workshops offered on everything from elections to GIS mapping sessions. Malloy will return to the Connecticut Convention Center on Thursday to participate in his “Economic Summit.”