R E G I O N A L T A X A T I O N
"...For all of these initiatives, there is still not a consensus that regionalism is worth the trouble."
A S R E G I O N A L I S M ' S T I M
E F I N A L L Y C O M E ?
A N N U A L R E V I E W
O R " S A M P L E R " O
F T H I S I S S U E I N
C O N N E C T I C U T
Western Connecticut Council of Governments
FROM TESTIMONY BY REP. GAIL LAVIELLE ON MARCH 6, 2015
Eminent Domain on Steroids? A New Bill Threatens Cities and Towns
How would you feel if a group of people who lived elsewhere in the state
and whom no one had elected were to take over certain planning and
zoning functions in your town or city and unilaterally make critical
decisions about entire neighborhoods -- like who could own property
there, and what they could do with it? Although this scenario seems
far-fetched, it is clearly outlined in governor’s bill HB 6851, which
has just received a public hearing in the General Assembly.
HB 6851 would strip towns and cities of part of their local
planning and zoning decision-making authority by transferring it to a
board of state-level appointees. It would also permanently expose all
those who own property anywhere within half a mile of a rail or bus
station to the threat of eminent domain.
On the surface, the purpose of HB 6851 is laudable: to promote
transit-oriented development. TOD both encourages the use of public
transit and makes it easily accessible to people who cannot or choose
not to drive. TOD’s potential beneficiaries include, among others, young
professionals, seniors, people with disabilities, and people with
limited incomes. Those living outside TOD areas benefit too, from
reduced vehicle emissions, less traffic, a multi-generational populace,
and concentration of development away from greenspaces.
TOD is a concept that many communities would like to pursue.
But under HB 6851 they might not have the chance, because instead, it
would be pursued for them by a group of political appointees, without
any requirement for local approvals at all.
Here’s the substance of the bill:
• It creates a quasi-public
entity called the Connecticut Transit Corridor Development Authority
(TCDA) that would be run by a board of 11 voting members, including
seven political appointees and four state agency commissioners.
• It allows the TCDA to promote TOD in TCDA
districts, which include all properties within a half-mile radius of a
rail or bus station.
• It gives the TCDA board eminent domain powers within TCDA districts.
• It requires the TCDA board to consult
with the chief elected official of a municipality where development is
taking place, but does not require the board to obtain his or her
approval for anything. Nor does it require the TCDA board to consult
with or obtain approvals from any local legislative bodies, boards, or
• It gives the TCDA the authority to issue
its own bonds, financed by revenues collected through fees and rents, as
well as state taxes.
• In short, the bill would give 11
non-elected people the authority to do whatever they wanted in 500-acre
swaths of any city or town in Connecticut with a rail or bus station,
and no one in those municipalities would be able to do anything about
Many transit stations are in downtown or village areas. Those
areas could change dramatically, with no consideration for the views of
local residents or property owners. The changes could do a lot of good,
like providing needed affordable housing or new transit parking
facilities, but they could also do a lot of harm. For example, the TCDA
could demolish a beloved local merchant’s shop to replace it with
housing or offices, take over a parking lot that generates municipal
revenues and pass on the revenues to the state, or expropriate owners of
The political composition of the board also raises questions
about contractor and developer selection and agreements, whatever the
political party or parties making TCDA board appointments.
Were the legislative intent simply to offer TOD assistance and
incentives to municipalities and to give their citizens or elected
officials a vote in local decisions, HB 6851 could easily have been
drafted differently. But it wasn’t. Instead, the language of the bill
explicitly allows a non-elected body to supersede completely the
authority of representative local government with no checks and balances
HB 6851 now awaits consideration by the legislature’s Planning
and Development Committee. The administration’s proposal of the bill
raises many disturbing questions about its policy stance on the state’s
role in local government. The implications are vast for residents of
every city and town in Connecticut.
On Thursday, March 19, 2015, the
WCCOG discussed this bill and voted to make a statement opposing it - to
be approved by Executive Committee.
REGIONAL TAXATION WHEN IT TAKES PLACE
IN THE FUTURE MIGHT BE ALONG THESE LINES...OR NOT?
Thank goodness Weston is now in a region with other
towns that are also rural. And furthermore, this may be the
beginning of a new focus on Georgetown! Public Hearing on
"Reverse PILOT" in 2014.
What a difference three years makes!
Trumbull quits shared health district
Keila Torres Ocasio, CTPOST
Updated 10:45 pm, Friday, December 12, 2014
TRUMBULL -- The Trumbull-Monroe Health District has served both
towns since 2004, but one town decided this week to quit, leaving the
other scrambling to find another option. Estimating the town could
save as much as $80,000 with the move, the Town Council on Thursday
night voted to withdraw from the joint health district...story in full: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Trumbull-quits-shared-health-district-5953567.php
SWRPA NO MORE...SOON.
read this FORUM article to understand how the hand of government
massages its way to what it wanted all along.
We see now that the concept of a Council of
Governments - with everyone getting one vote - as opposed to R.P.A.
weighted voting (by representative of the Board of Selectman and
P&Z) is going to be trashed...reminds me or George Orwell sometimes,
the way the Legislature and Governor work. And we can now add in
"D" control of the Supreme Court, too, perhaps?
SWRPA Board votes
15-2 to back their CEO's...
SWRPA CEOs Urge Danbury-Area Planning Body Merger
UPDATE Under the plan, 10 municipalities around Danbury would merge
their regional planning authority with the eight southwest members.
UPDATE Facing a state deadline, chief elected officials of Westport and
six of the seven other members of the South Western Regional Planning
Agency (SWRPA) today recommended merging with the 10-municipality
governing authority to the north around Danbury.
Says Legislature Will Tackle Property Taxes
Christine Stuart | Sep 12, 2013 1:25pm
He didn’t get the phase out of the car tax that he wanted last session,
but House Speaker Brendan Sharkey wants the conversation on property
taxes to continue during the 2014 legislative session.
“Before the current recession we’re coming out of now, the crisis
before the crisis was the property tax,” Sharkey said Thursday at a
Capitol press conference. “Here in Connecticut, there were people in
the state who were talking about open revolt over the property tax and
the impacts it was having on their local communities.”
...The last time the state commissioned a study of property taxes was
October 2003. The resulting report, which has been available online for
10 years, did not offer a consensus conclusion to eliminate the car
tax. However, it did recommend implementing a temporary spending cap on
municipalities to limit spending growth to 2.5 percent per year, or the
rate of inflation. That idea seems to have faded from lawmakers’
Regionalism Panel Promises MORE For The
Legislative commission could bring down state costs
7:06 PM EDT, May 24, 2013
Is it any wonder that Connecticut is considered a high-cost state?
Not all of the MORE proposals are good. For example, MORE proposes the
elimination of the state law requiring public notices to be printed in
daily newspapers. Yes, it is in The Courant's interest to continue this
practice, but it is also in the public interest. More people read
newspapers than look at city or state websites, studies indicate.
Also, the commission proposes a gradual elimination, over several
years, of the property tax on automobiles, in large part because the
tax is unfair. It is indeed unfair: A tax on the same car can be much
higher in some cities than in some small and well-off towns. But there
is nothing inherently wrong with taxing cars, especially when the state
is trying to promote the use of transit.
We think the better step is to create a standard statewide mill rate on
cars, and leave it at that. Mr. Sharkey said at a press conference that
the commission may decide to do that.
Change is a process. There will be disagreements on certain issues. But
if Mr. Sharkey and Mr. Larson can keep the MORE Commission at work over
the next few years, this can be a less expensive and more competitive
Copyright © 2013, The Hartford
Purple colored commission - bi-partisan! As in "the State of
Connecticut wants more
from Fairfield County
towns." More on this story here
and the "why" here.
And a must read is
the CT MIRROR series on
CT's fiscal crisis, here, part two: http://www.ctmirror.org/print/19825
WHAT'S UP IN THE CT LEGISLATURE? MORE
REGIONALIZING, NO PUN INTENDED.
- Perhaps after the M.O.R.E. Commission
reports later today, we can
figure out how to best revise our new Charter to comply with
- Do you think this is what is generating
Selectmen's sense of urgency?
- Or is it that we have seen the last
- And maybe we should have a different
- With all the new responsibilities of the
Chief Elected Official, Mayor - Council form of government might
work better, with all appointed officials and paid fire
- And regional schools for all...tune in
later in Session to find out how HB6629
changed - or not.
70 is where the Office of Legislative Research report begins.
AN ACT CONCERNING REGIONALISM IN
Previously, the House
V-Chair. SWRPA, 1st Selectman Weston, Wilton, Mayor of
Norwalk, 1st Selectmen of Greenwich, Darien
First selectmen, mayors take a stand
Posted: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 5:03 pm
State Sen. Toni Boucher, R-26, applauds area first selectman and mayors
who visited the Legislative Office Building in Hartford to fight
The bill before the House would eliminate regional planning agencies
and regional councils of elected officials by Jan. 1, 2015.
Those agencies and councils would be replaced with eight regional
councils of governments; to require the Northeastern Region Council of
Governments to develop a pilot program to address the human services
needs of the region; to require the Capital Region Council of
Governments to develop a pilot program to improve services and
cost-efficiency in the region; and to require the Valley Council of
Governments to develop a pilot program to transfer administration of
the HUD Community Development Block Grant Small Cities Program for the
towns of Ansonia, Derby, Seymour and Shelton to such council.
This is where Regional Assets
Districts come in - is the activity regionally important? Then
the region should chip in $$
Arts funding drama takes center stage
Jan Ellen Spiegel, CT MIRROR
February 15, 2012
Arts organizations in Connecticut had been feeling the love from the
Malloy administration: a new home in the Department of Economic and
Community Development, leadership that seemed to care what they had to
say, new programs, and not insignificantly -- more funding.
But not after last week...
CCM airs priorities to improve
communities’ financial recovery
By Mary E. O’Leary, Register Topics Editor
Published: Tuesday, January 04, 2011
HARTFORD — The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities views the
state’s current fiscal crisis as an opportunity for fundamental changes
that will reduce mandates on communities, provide more revenue options
for them and looks to more incentives for regional solutions...WAS IT EVER THUS...
example of how to cut an administrative job out of the budget - do it
over the summer?
East Hampton Town Manager Faces
Fire Over Police Chief
By BILL LEUKHARDT, email@example.com
11:47 PM EDT, July 2, 2010
EAST HAMPTON —
Town Manager Jeffrey O'Keefe was pelted with catcalls and shouts of
"resign" Friday morning by a noisy crowd of about 200 citizens backing
embattled police Chief Matthew Reimondo.
The people filled the high school auditorium to hear Reimondo challenge
O'Keefe's decision, made June 22, to immediately eliminate the
$99,000-a-year job of police chief and several other police department
positions to save an estimated $500,000.
said cuts are necessary because the town faces a projected $1 million
shortfall in the 2011-2012 fiscal year. The town council will be asked
to amend its ordinances and eliminate the police chief position. A
sergeant was promoted to lieutenant to lead the department...
Small-Town Big Spending
By TOM BROKAW
April 20, 2009
DURING these uncertain times we’ve yet to hear a phrase with the
resonance of Franklin Roosevelt’s “The only thing we have to fear is
fear itself,” but there are a couple of minor-chord expressions that
should have staying power.
One is the observation of Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff,
that “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” Another comes
from my boss, Jeff Immelt, the chief executive of General Electric, who
has warned, “This is not a cycle; it’s a reset...” RESET MEANS MOVING TO BOSTON IN 2016.
New Day For
LEGISLATIVE PACKAGE • New laws
encourage regional cooperation, saving money and land
January 27, 2009
Progress, the late poet Ogden Nash observed, might have been all right
once, but it has gone on too long. That might describe the state's
postwar rush to suburbia.
Stoked by VA mortgages and cheap cars and gas, development marched
outward. Cities lost population as former villages boomed. But what
boomed was mostly sprawl — ill-planned, low-density, auto-dependent,
single-family residential or strip mall construction on what had been
forest or farmland.
Only belatedly did the citizenry realize that progress has a cost, in
addition to infrastructure and services expenses, air and water
pollution, energy use and social isolation. It diminishes the open
lands that support agriculture, water supplies, wildlife habitat and
the traditional visual character of the Connecticut countryside...
Coasters not playing nice
Updated: 01/09/2009 04:48:17 PM EST
The Democratic-dominated state General Assembly has finally reached the
stages of budgetary grief. Unfortunately, that stage is denial,
so this isn't going to be the year that the Legislature is going to
blow up local school boards, the way Maine is doing in its fiscal
Regionalism Trumpeted, But
Town Leaders Wary Of Being Told How To Do It
By Karin Crompton , Ted Mann
Published on 1/11/2009
Don't ask Lyme First Selectman Ralph Eno about regionalism unless
you're ready to weather the shouting...
SURPRISE! IN 2008 PEOPLE WERE DEALING WITH THINGS OTHER THAN REGIONALISM.
leaders hash out hot issues at
September 13, 2007
Businesses are moving in, shops and restaurants are opening.
Downtowns are flourishing in Darien, Fairfield, Westport and poised to
do so in Norwalk. If those trends are to continue, however, the
four lower Fairfield
County communities must work together on regional issues such as
transportation, education funding and affordable housing...AND THEN CAME THE GREAT RECESSION.
Push for regionalization a tricky balancing act
August 25, 2007
For many small towns in Windham
County, passing budgets this year proved arduous...AND THAT WAS A DECADE AGO!
economies quantified; 'trade imbalance' hurts state, report says
PAM DAWKINS firstname.lastname@example.org
Article Launched:11/02/2006 04:49:00 AM EST
Gross state product isn't the only measure of an economy — especially
when that state is Connecticut, according to a senior economist with
the state Department of Labor.
In an article in the Connecticut Economic Digest, released Wednesday,
Daniel Kennedy examined the apparently mutually exclusive realities of
slower growth in gross state product, which measures the value of goods
and services produced in a state, and high per-capita income.
"A major factor that resolves that paradox" is the two concepts at
work, Kennedy said.
Namely, gross state product is a geographically based measure but many
state residents, particularly those "south and west" of New Haven work
in New York City.
"Fairfield County is basically a satellite of the New York City
economy," Kennedy said. "There isn't really a 'Connecticut economy'
because you've got a substantial amount of people that are working in
New York City," said economist Todd Martin, who advises People's Bank...
Regional Solutions To Regional Issues
By Paul Choiniere
Published on 6/5/2006
Norwich doesn't have a casino, but its schools have plenty of casino
The student body at Greeneville Elementary School is an ethnic and
racial melting pot, with two-thirds categorized as minority students.
For many, English is a second language. More than one-third have
parents who work at one of the region's two casinos. They bring both a
cultural richness and an educational challenge.
Griswold doesn't have a major shopping center, but its business
district in the Borough of Jewett City felt the pinch six years ago
when Lisbon Landing — with its Wal-Mart, Home Depot and several other
big- box retailers — opened just a couple of miles down the road.
Big projects have consequences that spill over town borders, but
Connecticut, governed by a system in which decisions on development,
zoning and education are left to each individual town, is particularly
ill-equipped to plan for and address those impacts.
But that could be changing. The public, it appears, is in a mood to
explore new approaches — regional approaches — to the challenges facing
this corner of Connecticut.
Utopia Studios Ltd., the next potential big project, was given a green
light May 23 when Preston voters approved a development agreement to
allow planning to move forward on the $1.6 billion entertainment and
studio complex. It is proposed for the 419-acre former Norwich Hospital
property in the southwest corner of town.
In 2000 the legislature passed a law that would allow municipalities to
voluntarily share property tax revenues. So far no region has
utilized the law.
PS. Utopia Studios ended up in disaster because it was...utopian.
Dear Electees: Get
Smart About Growth
By Lisa McGinley, Night
City Editor, DAY
Published on 11/9/2005
...Anthony Downey, a senior fellow in economic studies for the
Institution, the well-known independent think tank, listed the goals of
Smart Growth in a speech in 2003:
• Limit outward expansion
• Encourage higher-density development
• Encourage mixed-use zoning;
• Reduce travel by private vehicles
• Revitalize older areas
• Preserve open space
Affordable housing can be a goal, but usually is not, he
of homeowner fears it will drive down the value of their own
Take Command: Economic development is too important to Eastern
Connecticut's future to be left in the hands of local governments.
New London DAY Editorial
Published on 10/16/2005
The fight to save the submarine base demonstrated what an effective
network of regional organizations the region has assembled since
previous base-closing struggles in the early 1990s. But the important
factor in that success — which few want to discuss — is the role
leadership played. The organization would have gone nowhere if it
hadn't been for strong direction by a few leaders.
Cooperation is good, but it was a command structure that overcame this
crisis, and clear lines of command will be essential to make this
region BRAC-proof in the future. Somebody, or some unified
organization, has to take charge of uniting the region behind the
complicated and arduous task of economic development. For a region as
steeped in Navy tradition as this one, that point should be obvious.
Economic development needs to be carried out on a regional basis with
people whose day job it is to be in charge...