Senator McLachlan Urges Passage of Bill Addressing Municipal FundingApril 11, 2017
State Senator Michael McLachlan (R-24) said the recent municipal budget increases proposed by Sherman and New Fairfield first selectmen show the need for passage of his bill, SB 154, An Act Concerning Portions Of The State Budget Appropriating Aid To Municipalities. The bill would require the legislature to adopt funding to municipalities by March 1 of each year.
“Municipalities don’t have the luxury of putting off budget decisions. They are required to have an adopted budget in place when the new fiscal year starts on July 1st,” Sen. McLachlan said “Meanwhile, the General Assembly waits until the end of the session, if not later, to approve a budget. This leaves local communities guessing how much money they will get from the state when they develop their own budgets. It’s completely backwards.”
Governor Malloy’s budget proposed substantial cuts in money to most of the state’s smaller communities, including eliminating funding for the resident state trooper program. Towns like New Fairfield and Sherman in Sen. McLachlan’s district are too small to have their own police departments.
The cuts have met resistance from both Democrat and Republican legislators. However, with no formal budget in place, New Fairfield and Sherman first selectmen told Hearst Media that they had to budget as if the state would eliminate the trooper funding.
Sen. McLachlan said requiring municipal funding to be approved by March 1st would stop the guesswork in local budgets and force legislators to be more accountable to their constituents.
“It all comes down to being responsible to the taxpayers,” Sen. McLachlan said. “Because we haven’t gotten this done, municipalities are guessing and possibly raising their property taxes. That is not responsible governing and the town suffer because of our inaction.”
Nearly 50 senators and state representatives have signed on the SB 154, which is awaiting action in the legislature’s Appropriations Committee. The committee has until April 27 to take action this year.
Sen. McLachlan represents the communities of Bethel, Danbury, New Fairfield, and Sherman.