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Is Groton Too Dependent on Property Taxes?

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities says it is and that all of Connecticut's 169 towns are being shortchanged by the state.

 

Connecticut’s 169 municipalities have gotten little increased financial help from the state in the last five years and remain overly dependent on state aid, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities says.

CCM, the main lobbying group for local communities, released a bulletin Monday to candidates for the state’s General Assembly urging them to make education funding a priority in the coming year, according to the Connecticut Mirror.

In Groton, the Town Council approved a tax rate of 20.22 mills this year, an increase of 7 percent over the previous mill rate of 18.89 mills.

The increase came after Representative Town Meeting approved a general fund budget of $120.89 million for the fiscal year; the budget represented at 2 percent increase from last year’s spending.

State aid for towns overall stands at about $3 billion per year, while Connecticut’s 169 towns collectively raise about $9 billion annually from local property taxes, James Finley, CCM’s executive director, told the Mirror. State aid to towns has remained relatively flat over the last five years. When you factor in the rate of inflation, that means towns have actually lost financial ground during that five-year period, Finley added.

The state aid figures represent an over-dependence by towns on local property taxes, something the General Assembly should address by closing shortfalls in education funding to towns, Finley said.

"The key to property tax relief is education finance reform," Finley told the Mirror. "The overdependence on the property tax is unsustainable, and hometown Connecticut is in desperate need of revenue assistance."

augie42 September 29, 2012 at 01:07 PM
This article has missed the mark. The problem with the state of CT is the HIGH tax burdens toward businesses and its residents. These burdens along with unfunded mandates is what are hurting municipal economies. For example, Groton has a state mandated racial imbalance issue in which there is limited or no fiscal help from the state. Also CT police academy state funding has been significantly reduced, shifting the burden to the towns. As state aide lowers the towns are forced to cut (which Groton has a hard time doing) OR raise the mill rate. A vicious death spiral that will force more and more revenue out of CT. Scott Aument/ Groton RTM.
Ed Johnson September 29, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Augie42 is correct. And, five years ago, I wrote the following: "Our local geographical area did not fare well during this past CT Legislative session regarding the issue of reducing Town dependence on Property Tax. Despite an effort by Governor Rell herself to address this issue, the subject eroded into yet another conflict between the Republicans and Democrats. For two years in a row, no real progress has been made.Some of our existing local legislators were voted into office because many of us felt that they would be able to help accomplish the task of getting our local governments away from dependence on the property tax. Running out of time, these legislators are now tasked with finally accomplishing this in the next legislative session. They need to find a way for both political parties to cooperate on solutions, rather than to continually get bogged down criticizing each other in the press, as has happened lately. Otherwise, they should find some other pastime and leave politics because far too many of us are fed up with being taxed on unrealized gains, completely out of proportion to our incomes. For us older folks who have lived in our homes and served our communities for 30 to 50 years, it is now the primary political issue of our lives." We have another chance now to correct this problem in Hartford. There's an election for area representatives in November. Vote for the one who promises to take direct action on this issue...and then follows through with it.
Mariellen V. French September 30, 2012 at 05:08 PM
The newest member of the Town Council has said that the Town should look at it's income before deciding what we "need", rather than the other way round. Don't most families operate that way? Or, at least, the financially responsible ones? The Town Manager and Department Heads are well paid, and seem to believe all Groton's citizens are, also. Many lower income people are being forced out of Groton by the ever increasing taxes, people who live in family homes and have lived here for decades.
Rosanne Kotowski September 30, 2012 at 06:47 PM
It would be great to vote for a legislator to promises to take direct action on the over reliance of property taxes, however unless the status quo changes it may not be possible. Regardless of whether we are discussing local, state or federal issues, the facts, data and statements are skewed to frame the discussion in one way or another. It appears that the local politicans are of one mind set, protect the status quo for municipal issues. However, in state and federal elections they follow their party line. This became painfully clear to me as I observed local politians cheer on state and federal candidates who are going "hold the line on spending", "cut out the waste", etc. But when these same people have the opportunity to actually hold the line on spending and stop burdening the taxpayers locally, they protect the status quo every time and raise taxes! An interesting idea may be to try to change the way local politicians think about the budget. If there are three positions, cut taxes, level fund taxes and raise taxes. Which one is the "compromise" and "moderate" position? Level fund taxes right? Well it should be, but not in Groton. Somehow the town manager and board of education have created a yearly scenario whereby "cutting the rate of growth" or "decreasing the increase" is "cutting the budget and services". Is it possible to start the 2014 budget cycle with a zero tax increase the goal of the Town Council, Board of Education and RTM? As it is the compromise postion.
Rick McDonald September 30, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Sadly no most families do not operate that way. In today's credit crazed society it's charge charge charge and worry about how to pay for it later.
Rick McDonald September 30, 2012 at 07:22 PM
State aid or property tax, what is the difference really? Reduced state aid = increased property tax. Increased state aid = Increase state taxes and maybe a reduced property tax. It still all comes out of our pockets one way or the other. The only way tax payers will see savings is if budgets are reduced.
Mariellen V. French October 01, 2012 at 03:17 AM
And, why, if there are fewer students in fewer schools, does the Board of Education keep raising their budget? I strongly believe a community should educate the next generation of taxpayers, but administrative costs and money do NOT educate children. Good teachers do.

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