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‘This Report Is Different’–Mayors Embrace Solutions To Make Cities Fiscally Healthy

January 25th, 2017 · 19 Comments · City Budget, News and Events

Mayor Joe Ganim joined other Connecticut mayors on Wednesday at a news event hosted by the municipal lobbying arm Connecticut Conference of Municipalities calling on the state legislature to approve new revenue sources and shared regional services to save money. See video above. See executive summary of This Report Is Different here.

Here are a few examples of some new municipal tools the report calls for:
· Removing service sharing arrangements as a subject of collective bargaining; state law should be changed so that interlocal agreements or service sharing contracts involving two or more municipalities will override any participating municipality’s charter.

· Allowing general government more control over education expenditures and boards of education; and amending the Municipal Employee Retirement System (MERS) to establish an additional retirement plan for new hires.

· Expanding the sales tax base by repealing 10% of the exemptions for selected consumption categories; reducing the state sales tax rate by 0.75% to 5.60%; and levying a statewide local sales tax at the rate of 1%.

· Changing state law and permit municipalities to require on-going fees for the use of the public rights of way.

· Requiring property owners of properties subject to state PILOT reimbursement to pay the difference between the state’s statutory PILOT rate and the amount towns actually receive in state PILOT payments, up to 20 percent of the mil rate.

· Requiring property assessment services be consolidated and/or shared in Connecticut regions for assessment offices servicing less than 15,000 parcels.

CT Post reporter Neil Vigdor has more on this here.

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19 Comments so far ↓

  • DC Faber

    If public unions really cared they would offer to give up pensions and their costly medical packages and accept 401(k)’s and deductible/high deductible plans like the majority of corporate employees get. Unpaid mandates to gold-laced union contracts are a big reason the state is in such financial peril.

    • Ron Mackey

      Corporate officials get wages and benefits that are anywhere from twice up to 10 times what someone in the same type of position gets in the public sector. Corporations can just pick up and move to another city, town, state and country while the pubic sector has to work in order for the government to function. Let’s not forget their golden parachute when they retire.

  • Ron Mackey

    This proposal is calling for unions to lose their veto power if towns want to consolidate services to save money. With that proposal there’s NO need for unions to negotiate anything because there will be NO good-faith negotiation with any town and city because the unions will be forced to accept whatever the town and city tells unions to take.

    • Tom White

      Earth to Ron Mackey. What decade did you get that statement from? Credible sources have presented solid data showing government employees now have a total package of wages, benefits and pensions that surpass the private sector. Corporations must be profitable to survive. They will go where labor, utilities and other costs are lower. Government employee unions have created conditions benefiting a few that must be paid by current and future taxpayers. I don’t condone the greed and income disparity of corporate America, but government employee unions are a big part of the problem in government.

      • Maria Pereira

        The middle class was most prosperous at the height of union rolls. As union membership has declined so has a thriving middle class.

        The problem with this country is the wealthy refuse to pay their fair share of taxes.

        The four top earning family members from Walmart earn more than the bottom 60 million Americans in this country.

        Half of all Walmart employees receive some form of public assistance while Walmart earns millions and millions of taxpayer-funded tax breaks and subsidies.

        Not only are we paying for Walmart tax breaks; we are paying for the 50% of their employees public food and housing assistance.

        To put this in perspective, Walmart is the largest employer in the US.

        I REFUSE to spend $1 at Walmart, and I do what I can to educate others about why they should not shop there.

        I do everything I can not to purchase Koch Brothers products, however greeting cards are very difficult because they own Hallmark.

        • John Marshall Lee

          Unions thrive where a battle for wages and benefits in exchange for a ready pool of skilled workers is present. Unions in private industry began to lose memberships as corporations moved from the north to states where rules for corporations were different.

          But unions, themselves, have found it easier to organize and succeed where there is far less pushback, and that is in the governmental scene of Federal, State and municipal employment. Can you identify the “management” with the mandate to provide fair and equitable treatment to employees as well as to taxpayers? Who holds them accountable? Is it only once every two or four years at the polls? Can we improve the telltales so the public can see what the union negotiators have earned for their members? Time will tell.

        • Joel Gonzalez

          “I do everything I can not to purchase Koch Brothers products, however greeting cards are very difficult because they own Hallmark.”

          Make your own cards and print, it’s how Hallmark does it.

  • Frank Gyure

    Why are we attacking public unions? They are getting benefits most employees got through the 1980s and then Ronald Reagan fired the striking Air Traffic controllers and “labor” has been losing rights ever since then. Why are some defending the paltry average employee benefits (ONLY 401(k)’s as pension, and in many cases with no employer match and the, even worse, high deductible health plans being forced on employees). Employees have been getting screwed for the last 35 years, since Reagan. In the “old” days, we had Personnel Departments that recognized employees as human beings deserving of respect and a sharing of a company’s success. Today, we have “Human Resource” Departments where human beings are looked at only as a “resource,” completely expendable and to be used and used up. The sense of an unwritten “contract” between employer and employee working together for the betterment of the company has been completely lost. We now have “Employment At Will” that states there is absolutely no contract (defined or implied) between employee and employer. This states an employee has the right to leave the employer and no reason is necessary but it also gives the EMPLOYER the right to fire for no reason whatsoever (admittedly there are some parameters such as race, age, gender etc. discrimination). Some balance may be necessary but what we are seeing today is a continuing erosion of worker/employee rights. In my opinion, this is wrong.

    • Frank Gyure

      BTW, I think this report from the CCM is wrong. What needs to be done is to raise the State Income Tax so more revenue can be earned where the money is in Connecticut–and the money is in the suburbs. Any idea of giving urban municipalities the “right” to collect a separate/additional sales tax is a continuation of the decades-long policy of The State of Connecticut favoring suburbs. These recommendations from the CCM might be moving in the right direction but they have major flaws.

    • John Marshall Lee

      Frank,
      There are two major types of employee retirement plans. Ones that are termed “defined benefit” (DB) and others that are termed “defined contribution” (DC) plans.

      DB look to the future for each employee and set out a Normal Retirement Age, and a benefit level (sometimes stated as a percentage of basic pay, or as a % benefit per years of service) to provide a lifetime income. (Lifetimes have become longer as mortality risks have been pushed back and as benefits can be extended to survivors.) But managers must set aside funds, invest them conservatively and prudently for the long-term nature of such promises and IF THEY WERE SUCCESSFUL, THEY MIGHT BE ABLE TO PROVIDE A LUMP SUM, GUARANTEED TO LAST A LIFETIME AND GUARANTEED AGAINST INVESTMENT RISKS. But this is not what happens.

      With DC plans the actual funds from the employee and employer are set aside, invested and when Retirement Age is reached, the employee enjoys the buying power of such funds for the rest of his life. The employer has no further expense and if there are mortality or investment risks, they are borne by the worker. And there is a major difference between DB pension plans and DC varieties like 401K plans or profit-sharing plans.

      And the question is asked by the larger number of folks who did not work for government and who do not get DB pensions, how is this burden fair to me? Why am I paying to mitigate the design problems of DB plans while I have my own retirement income problems? Time will tell.

  • Joel Gonzalez

    This report is different? These are “Solutions?”

    “… calling on the state legislature to approve new revenue sources and shared regional services to save money.”

    These so-called leaders are asking the legislature for more taxes. A municipal general sales tax of 1% first and as the years go by, they will increase it like the income tax. They have the balls to call it, “new revenue sources.” It’s a fucking tax increase. Read the report and notice how much the state spends compared to the revenue (taxes, fees, etc.). The problem is on the spending side, not revenue.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    One thing that will aid all cities is repealing the tax exempt status of all companies, hospitals and the rest of the charities and rehabs that are paying no taxes. Doing this will close a lot of storefront churches.
    If SHU can come up with $31,000,000 to purchase GE headquarters in Fairfield and buy a golf course in Stratford/Shelton then it should be able to pay taxes. If Bridgeport Hospital can buy up houses on Mill Hill Ave and on Williston, then they can pay taxes.

  • Joel Gonzalez

    Hey Lennie, for ten years you or OIB has allowed institutions or organizations like CCM to use OIB as a means to communicate their opinions or analysis on important fiscal matters. Many of the proposed solutions by most of them haven’t produced positive results and have fallen short of expectations. Next week, Malloy will again throw out his plan (Budget). You and the rest of the media will feed us all the bullshit and gimmicks. The Independent Office of Fiscal Analysis is the only department I can say has consistently been accurate with their budget numbers and predictions of future budget numbers to expect. Get your ass off that chair Lennie and give us OIB readers the real financial status of our state. Give OIB readers on a more regular basis an Independent, nonpartisan view.
    www .cga.ct.gov/ofa/

  • John Marshall Lee

    Lennie, it has been said “you cannot teach old dogs new tricks.” Perhaps when they begin to stir, they have some memory of the fact things today are not the way they have to be or have ever been.

    Then again, perhaps it is the recent depiction of “alternate facts” as being, in truth, lies, that will have people pursuing new storylines and more information, data, facts. Finally, perhaps trends can be noted and reasoning can become re-tracked to see a story not understood previously.

    And where can an independent, objective and non-partisan view of the local scene be found? Is such a thing important? Time will tell.

  • Jeff Kohut

    It is simply amazing how our municipal and state leadership can miss the most obvious source of new revenue and savings/increased disposable income for citizens/taxpayers and businesses–the bloated, overcompensated electric utilities, which are currently (and for a protracted period) being overcompensated (statutorily) for their essential product.

    The tax base of host cities is being devalued by the presence of electric power generation/supply infrastructure, and undercompensated per its environmental effects. And customers, including municipal governments, are being grossly overcharged well beyond allowed, “normal” profits (per statutory limits on profit levels of legal, chartered monopolies).

    Connecticut’s second-highest-in-the-US electric power costs are killing businesses and family budgets in Connecticut. Addressing this problem should be near the top of the list of legislative priorities this session in Hartford. And financial disclosure of connections/investments in Connecticut public utilities (at the personal/family/business-partner level) should be required of all state and municipal public officials. This is not a minor economic matter in Connecticut, it is a major factor in our fiscal dilemma at all levels of the economy, from family to corporate to government.

    And consumers are about to be hit from another big hit from a big rate increase from UI that was recently granted, over citizen protest, by Malloy’s DEEP/DPUC. (The casino promoters in the legislature should be addressing this, above most other things, this session.)

  • Dave Walker

    No wonder Mayor Boughton, who is Chair of CCM, was on vacation in Florida when this report was released. It focuses too much on more taxes and not enough on real structural reforms at the state and local level. Connecticut could learn a lot from Michigan and other states. Many have taken steps to make tough choices to create a better future while Connecticut continues to delay and decline!

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