There are about 50,000 public school teachers in Connecticut’s more than 1,100 public schools. There are also about 40,000 retired public school teachers. And just like with state employees, the teacher pension fund is in serious trouble.
In recent years, the teachers’ have contributed seven percent of their wages to the state pension fund. All the rest has been paid for by the state.
Governor Lamont said the state can no longer do that and is pushing for the cities and towns to pay 25 percent of teacher pension costs plus a higher amount if teacher salaries are above the statewide average.
Rudy Marconi is 1st Selectman in Ridgefield. His teacher salaries are high because it’s an expensive town, so his town will have to pay 43 percent of the pension costs.
He added, “The 43 percent would achieve approximately $1.4 million at the end of three years. It [property taxes] would go up about a quarter of a mill or a half a mill.”
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On Wednesday afternoon, the Governor met with city and town leaders from across the state who told him their concerns about this and the uncertainty about future years.
Michael Freda is 1st Selectman in North Haven and said, “In the third year and beyond that, we’ll see what could begin to be a quarter of a mill rate increase in property taxes starting in the third year with uncertainty after that.”
It would mean an inevitable shift to local property tax payers across the state unless the towns are given some other revenue source to offset it.
After the meeting, Governor Lamont said, “This is an administration that listens, and we’re going to work together on this. Look, I got a lean budget and everybody likes a lean budget in the abstract unless it impacts their particular budget.”
The President of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary, said after Wednesday’s meeting that city and town leaders realize they have to have some “skin in the game” concerning the teacher pensions, they just want some certainty about the years ahead.