The current session of the General Assembly is expected to experience a number of twists and turns as municipal leaders seek passage of new local revenue sources rather than totally reliant on property taxes as well as funding from a slashing state government. Governor Dan Malloy will issue his budget address next week that he previews will include mandate relief for local communities. But which ones? And at what cost? I’ll give you here, but take there.
News release from Governor Dan Malloy:
Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that the state budget proposal he will release next week includes substantial state mandate relief for towns and cities across Connecticut. The Governor explained that these proposals will provide municipalities with greater flexibility and additional tools for making local government leaner and more cost efficient.
To date, there have been several efforts in the state to study municipal mandates, and recommendations offered by various municipal organizations and state commissions on the topic. Many of those recommendations will be included in the Governor’s upcoming Fiscal Year 2018/2019 budget proposal. This mandate relief package is designed to increase local control over budgets and contracts, keep down project costs, modernize out-of-date requirements, and remove unnecessary red tape.
““True partnerships are built on listening to the concerns and responding to the needs of the other party,” Governor Malloy said. “Given the challenges we face in balancing the budget in the next biennium, the state and local municipalities must continue to strengthen our working partnership–and in some respects, begin to redefine this relationship.”
Governor Malloy continued, “My administration has heard local leaders loud and clear–they are asking for a reprieve from onerous state requirements and for the removal of burdensome red tape. The budget I will present to the General Assembly next week will provide greater flexibility in the areas cited most frequently in need of mandate relief by municipal leaders, organizations, and state commissions.”
Among other mandate relief proposals, specific provisions will:
· Eliminate municipal spending cap for most municipalities.
· Provide for the random selection of neutral arbitrators and the use of a single neutral through an agreement of the parties in the binding arbitration process.
· Allow towns to negotiate employee contributions under the Municipal Employees Retirement System.
· Exclude 2017 state aid increases from collective bargaining ability to pay consideration.
· Increase the prevailing wage threshold for the first time since 1991 to $1 million for new construction and $500,000 for remodeling.
· Eliminate the requirement for superintendents in small school districts and communities, and remove the three-year limitation on superintendent contracts.
· Provide that every town in a regional school district, including prospective regional relationships, will receive the Education Cost Sharing aid ratio of the town with the highest ratio in the region, under certain circumstances.
· Foster flexibility for school districts on curricular instruction and professional development.
· Ease the process for temporary certificate holders to teach in local schools.
· Allow for flexible town assessment rates, with Office of Policy and Management approval.
· Increase antique car assessment cap to $1,000 for vehicles less than 30 years old.
· Defer the CHRO municipal mandate.
· Allow CHRO respondents to opt out of mediation.
· Increase town clerk preservation fees and remit larger portion of revenue to municipalities.
““We all know that change is hard–many of these mandates have been on the books for quite a long time,” Governor Malloy said. “But it is our responsibility to routinely review and identify what is working and what is hindering our ability to deliver the best service to the people of our state. We can provide relief to our towns and cities–and this proposal is a significant step in that direction.”