Connecticut’s municipal leaders are asking the General Assembly again this year to make it easier for them to raise money outside of the local property tax. It’s an issue that’s been raised for decades by cities and towns whose hands are tied by the property tax.
The 168 towns that belong to the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities want lawmakers to focus on giving them greater flexibility to raise money and share services on a regional basis.
The municipal lobby also wants to allow for a phase-in of property tax revaluations and to allow for the local option to delay property tax revaluations for one year.
Connecticut law requires that all property be re-valued every five years and property values obviously change over time. Many cities and towns had revaluations in 2021, which was at the height of the market, and will result in an increase in property taxes in several communities.
“Town and city leaders believe these proposals will help enhance particular essential services in their communities while at the same time providing fiscal relief from the level of local property taxation needed to pay for critical local services,” Joe DeLong, CCM Executive Director and CEO, said.
The group also wants to promote shared services by making changes to collective bargaining agreements and allowing municipalities to repeal portions of their charters that prevent them from sharing services with another municipality.
In the past, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities has lobbied for broadening the sales tax base, allowing towns to implement their own 1-percent sales tax, changing binding arbitration rules, and requiring the state to fund a bigger portion of teacher pensions.
This year when it comes to education they want the state to make bond funds available for local and regional school districts to improve indoor air quality in schools. They also want the state to fully fund the special education excess cost grant which is currently capped.
CCM is also asking for the state to pick up a greater share of the cost of police body cameras and dashboard footage. Specifically, the cost of storing the data and perhaps encouraging the state to come up with a central depository for that data.
Cities and towns are also asking lawmakers to support a constitutional amendment to authorize no-excuse absentee voting. The General Assembly passed similar legislation in 2021, but not by the 75% majority needed to get on their year’s ballot. That means the legislature convening next year would need to adopt a similar resolution to get it on the ballot in 2024.