Sen. Martin, legislators hear from Harwinton voters (Waterbury Republican-American)

January 28, 2016

Legislators hear from voters in Harwinton

‘I don’t want to be the last taxpayer … and turn off all the lights’

BY TAYLOR RAPALYEA
REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

HARWINTON — Town residents lamented about the exodus of residents from Connecticut during a legislative discussion at Town Hall on Wednesday night.

“I don’t want to be the last taxpayer here to have to go around and turn off all the lights,” said Jeffrey Neumann, one of about 20 residents who showed up to talk issues with three lawmakers — state Sens. Kevin D. Witkos, R-Canton, and Henri Martin, R-Bristol, and Rep. John Piscopo, R-Thomaston. “You have some serious choices to make.”

Martin replied, “I’m not an alarmist, but the bells are ringing quite loud right now. I hear it every day what you shared.”

The next legislative session begins next week in Hartford.


From left, state Rep. John Piscopo, R-Thomaston, and state Sens. Kevin D. Witkos, R-Canton, and Henri Martin, R-Bristol, address residents on Wednesday night at Harwinton Town Hall during a meeting ahead of the legislative session, which begins next week. Taylor Rapalyea/Republican-American

Neumann said he didn’t envy the job of the legislators, but he has heard from several people — including his sons, his mechanic and the best man at his wedding — who plan to leave the state for greener pastures. Neumann said from 2011 to 2013, an average of 38 people left Connecticut every day, a statistic also cited by The Yankee Institute.

After the meeting, Neumann said his sons and friends want to move out of the state to find higher paying jobs and lower taxes.

Martin noted, “The formula’s pretty easy. The communities that have the greatest economic growth are the ones that have less taxes and less government spending. They’re the ones that attract the businesses, the people and the jobs.”

First Selectman Michael R. Criss met with the legislators before the meeting to discuss issues facing Harwinton, including the rising costs of the resident state trooper program. The municipal burden for resident trooper costs jumped from 70 percent last fiscal year to 85 percent for 2015-16, and it’s expected that 100 percent of the cost eventually will fall on the dozens of municipalities that use the program.

“The thing that a lot of towns are looking at is to hire constables and report to a chief in another town,” Witkos said. “That’s the future, especially dollar for dollar. It doesn’t make any sense to have a resident trooper.”

Criss asked, “I guess my biggest concern is what do you see in the session? What are the things you can do to help us? You guys are our voice down there. Do you see any chance of getting any kind of relief to the community?”

Piscopo acknowledged it would be tough to get relief for the towns because of the state’s budget deficit.

Criss said he would be relieved if state money for the towns remained flat.