HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut’s largest association of cities and towns announced Monday it is working on a new plan to increase regional cooperation and review new taxing options.
The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities intends to have a comprehensive package of proposals “designed to break new ground” ready in December. The 2017 legislative session opens Jan. 4.
“We are not looking for another study that will be filed on an office shelf,” CCM’s executive director Joe DeLong said.
CCM announced a new 13-member State-Local Partnership Panel. The group of top local officials includes Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin. The Democrat has been appealing to the capital city’s wealthier neighbors to find regional solutions to help Hartford. The city is facing a massive deficit that’s more than 12 percent of its government budget.
Bronin has said he isn’t wedded to any particular ideas for helping his city or encouraging more cooperation. Rather, he wants to build a coalition to push for strong, healthy cities, arguing the suburbs will also benefit.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, a Republican and president of CCM, has said previously that Connecticut municipalities need additional taxing authority. Currently, they are mostly restricted to relying on local taxes on vehicles and real estate. Boughton has suggested regional councils of governments could distribute any funds raised regionally, essentially bypassing the state.
CCM’s new panel plans to build on the work of the 2015 State Tax Panel, which examined Connecticut’s taxing system. That group concluded that state grant policies to cities and towns should be re-examined to “further relieve pressure on the property tax to address fiscal disparities across municipalities.”