The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, which will host the final gubernatorial debate on Nov. 1, says Connecticut’s high property taxes are impacting the diversity of housing stock that in turn impacts the number of workers who can afford to live in the state.
The issue of property taxes is not new for the largest municipal lobby in the state. The group has been proposing ways to lower Connecticut’s property taxes with varying degrees of success over the past decade.
“We have to make sure that here in Connecticut folks who are coming to take a job, or keep a job, have a place to live,” Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said.
He said Connecticut has the lowest number of new housing starts in the country.
“If we’re going to attract and retain talent we have to make sure that people can afford to live in Connecticut,” Bronin said.
But he said they should also make it easier to convert vacant office space that’s vacant because of the pandemic into residential housing.
Bloomfield Mayor Danielle Wong said Connecticut is still too reliant on local property taxes to pay for all of this.
“In 2015, the Connecticut tax panel concluded that the property tax in Connecticut is regressive,” Wong said. “And that it has a detrimental impact on economic development.”
CCM’s State and Local Partnership panel, which developed the report, included 21 municipal leaders representing cities, suburban and rural communities, Republicans and Democrats. The panel offered recommendations that would enable towns and cities to: diversify local revenue; provide needed cost containment strategies; and encourage savings through increased regional collaboration.
Connecticut’s General Assembly has made changes over the years to the way it funds municipalities by increasing its PILOT payments to cities and towns.
The law, which took effect in fiscal year 2022, establishes a new method for determining the annual PILOT grant from the state for tax-exempt property.”
Affordable housing has also been an issue on the campaign trail for Gov. Ned Lamont and Republican challenger Bob Stefanowski.
Stefanowski wants to repeal a law that allows developers to come into a town and develop affordable housing without the say of local governments.
“It’s about not allowing developers to come into a town and have universal say about putting buildings up like we can see behind us,” Stefanowski said. “We need to get back to local control.”
He said Connecticut currently has a stick approach that threatens to take funding away from towns that don’t comply.
Lamont’s campaign said his administration has invested $500 million in affordable housing.
“Governor Lamont knows the best decisions are made at the local level and has worked with officials to increase housing across the state,” Onotse Omoyeni, a spokesperson for Lamont’s campaign, has said.
Neither candidate has addressed property taxes head-on as an issue even though the two went back and forth over affordable during the first debate.
“We do need more housing. Every business leader says we need more housing,” Lamont said during the Sept. 27 NBC CT debate. “I believe in local control. I want the towns to come up with what their housing plan is going to be.”
He said the state is never going to get the state growing again with more opportunity unless there is more housing.
Stefanowski maintained that the state should repeal 8-30g, which allows developers to have control in certain towns over what type of housing is built.