Some towns oppose shifting car tax to state

New London

At first, the thought of repealing the municipal car tax might appeal to taxpayers. However, town leaders in Stonington said it will end up costing them a lot more.

“Tremendous damage. We have over $140 million of vehicles in the town of Stonington,” said Stonington First Selectman Rob Simmons.

He said that generates about $3.3 million in revenue for the town and helps fund the budget. 

“This just makes it impossible for us to balance this thing,” said Simmons, as he dropped his large budget folder on his desk. “It’s ridiculous.” 

Simmons is among many sending in written testimony against Senate Bill 431, introduced by Democratic Sen. Martin Looney of New Haven.

The proposal also looks to establish a statewide car tax, shifting revenue to the state which would then fund the PILOT program which provides state money to towns with non-taxable properties.

“Stonington has no payment in lieu of taxes property,” said Simmons. “Zero. Zilch. None.”

New London does receive PILOT money for its three colleges, hospital, and state properties, and it could receive more if PILOT is fully funded. 

“The problem is the state sweeping the revenue and then redistributing it. That never works out in the long run,” said New London Mayor Michael Passero.

He said any gains may not make up for the loss of the car tax revenue the city now collects.

“Which is about $3.4 million in revenue to the city,” said Passero.

The proposal comes as towns said they have already seen a loss in education cost sharing funding from the state.

“It’s as if our kids aren’t worth being educated,” said Simmons.

The first selectman said cutbacks have already been made because of a drop in state funding.

The Pawcatuck Middle School is slated to close and the town will be consolidating it with Mystic Middle School to have one middle school in town.

Simmons said if more cuts come from the state, that could mean more staff could be cut next. 

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