HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Will your town/city have to raise taxes this year?
It’s a question being asked at the Capitol on Tuesday after Governor Ned Lamont met with top municipal groups around the state. Their members are owed a ton of money.
Governor Lamont wanted to calm fears about the millions in state money that are overdue. When the meeting broke up, those fears turned to anxiety.
Leaders from the state’s largest municipal groups Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) and the Council of Small Towns (COST) represent all 169 communities.
After seven months of waiting for overdue, promised state funding the group expressed cautious optimism.
“This is not only important from a public safety perspective, but it’s important to have well-maintained roads and infrastructure,” said Betsy Gara, COST Executive Director.
“The legislature decided not to act so I am going to act,” Governor Lamont said of his tabled tolls plan. “We are going to fix our transportation in a methodical way and we are going to do it out of bonding.”
But what if that money doesn’t come? Critical services have to be paid for, which some say means towns would raise taxes.
“Hopefully, if all of this comes together that’s something we won’t have to be concerned about any longer,” said Joe DeLong, CCM Executive Director.
The Office of Policy and Management Secretary Melissa McCaw said if leaders of the General Assembly are willing to take a vote, towns will get their money faster.
“We talk on a regular basis,” said McCaw. “Now, we need to know what are they taking action on: the municipal aid bill the governor has put forward or the broader package? So we will wait for a response.”
That broader bond package is $1.5 billion. The mini package is a total of $625 million in road and Capitol improvements and school construction projects.
The town of North Haven is owed $600,000 for a drainage issue they had to front their own money to fix.
“The commitment is to release the funds in this bond package and that allows us to either get some of these projects done or to reimburse ourselves that we had to get projects done because they were public safety issues,” said Mike Freda, First Selectman North Haven.
The Democratic Speaker of the House, Joe Aresimowicz told News 8 he is “meeting with the Chairs of the Bonding and Finance committees in the next few days to evaluate the governor’s proposal.”
The Republican leader of the Senate, Len Fasano, is willing to get a mini bond package done by next Friday.
“While I find it very hard to believe that Governor Lamont and Democrat leaders are anywhere close to agreeing on a full bonding package, what I do know is that funding for towns and cities has been held hostage for far too long and needs to be released,” Fasano said.
Whether the other legislative leaders will agree is unclear.