Malloy wants more oversight of municipal budgets

February 2, 2017 GMT

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy wants to look over the shoulders of the state’s mayors in attempt to make sure that they can avoid the type of fiscal problems that have plagued them in recent decades, including Bridgeport, Waterbury and now financially strapped Hartford.

Especially targeted will be those cities that received 30 percent or more of their local budgets from the state. “This is a long term and short-term effort that needs to be sustained on a long-term basis,” Malloy said.

Speaking during a news conference in Waterbury, Malloy said that as many as 25 communities, those with Alliance School districts, may be subject to the state oversight under the legislation that he will propose to the General Assembly on February 8.

Bond ratings, mill rates and the percentage of state funds used in local budgets are part of the criteria, Malloy said.

“This has a ways to go,” Malloy said of the legislative process. “This is not anti-union and not anti-employee. We need to hold communities accountable, so 20 or 30 years from now they are not suffering the effects of bad budgeting.”

Bridgeport was subject to two state financial review boards. More recently Waterbury’s financial problems resulted in similsr oversight. Under Malloy’s proposal, a new state accountability system will mandate state intervention to support troubled communities.

Malloy proposed a multi-level system of increasing review under a new Municipal Accountability Review Board.

Malloy said his budget will include some “adjustments” in tax rates, some tax credits in the insurance industry, but he is avoiding a budget proposal that would raise taxes.

In reaction, Joe DeLong, executive director of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, said he supports the governor’s efforts to help the cities.

“The over reliance on property taxes, especially in urban areas where most of the property is tax exempt continues to be a recipe for disaster,” DeLong said in a statement. “Oversight without the necessary structural changes, only insures that we will recognize an impending train wreck more quickly. It does not prevent the wreck.”