First Selectman Steve Vavrek called upon residents to contact their representatives about their concerns about the state’s budget.
Vavrek urged locals to notify legislators of their concerns by April 27, the deadline for the Appropriations and Finance Committee to vote on Connecticut’s state budget and revenue.
“Now is the time to remind your state legislators how cuts in municipal aid will affect your town, your budget, and your property tax levels,” he said.
Even though Monroe passed the town’s budget earlier this month, he said, residents should still make themselves heard regarding education costs.
Vavrek said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposal to push the cost of the teachers’ pension fund on municipalities is unfair.
“For more than 70 years, the state has chronically underfunded the Teachers’ Retirement System, resulting in billions of dollars in unfunded pension liabilities. The teachers’ pension fund was state-run and state-managed — towns didn’t break it, we shouldn’t own it. Requiring towns to pick up one-third of the costs of the teachers’ pension fund would result in an almost $1-billion property tax increase on our residents and businesses,” Vavrek said. “The problem will get much worse over time — by 2024, teachers’ pension costs could comprise more than 10% of a town’s local budget, forcing steep increases in property taxes and/or cuts and layoffs to critical programs in our towns and schools. Due to binding arbitration, towns have little or no control over teachers’ wages and benefits — we do not have any skin in the game.”
Vavrek also said that shifting the debt will “devastate property taxpayers and businesses, undermining local economies and our quality of life for years to come.”
He also said Malloy’s proposal slashes Education Cost Sharing (ECS) funding and “eliminates the Special Education Excess Cost grant, shifting more of the burden for funding education on property taxpayers in our small towns.”
He said another proposal would require towns to pick up 100% of the cost of resident state troopers and pay a $750-per-constable fee “on top of already outrageous fringe benefit costs. Towns are considering dropping or reducing what should be considered a model for regional efficiency.”
He urged residents to contact their representatives even if they previously contacted them.
“Even if you have spoken to your legislators earlier this session, now is the time to make some noise,” Vavrek said.