What if school districts were independent fiscal authorities, with budgeting and taxing powers separate from municipal finance boards, mayors and selectmen? A bill before the legislature proposes just that, and is drawing concern from local officials.\u201cOh yeah. It showed up over the weekend,\u201d First Selectman Rudy Marconi said of \u2018HB-7319, An Act Concerning The Fiscal Independence Of School Districts.\u2019\u00a0\u201cThis bill is concerning for a lot of us,\u201d he said.The bill would require local and regional school districts with fewer than 15,000 students \u2014 Ridgefield\u2019s school system is about a third that size \u2014 to become taxing authorities, separate from any municipality.\u201cBy creating this fiscal independence, it allows a Board of Education to set a mill rate \u2014 to do everything the municipality now does, for education services only,\u201d Marconi said.\u00a0Marconi isn\u2019t the only one worried. A vocal opponent is Wilton State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143).\u201cThe bill would basically turn Boards of Education in Connecticut into independent taxing districts,\u201d Lavielle said. \u201c...Creation of independent school taxing districts would diminish the role residents play in the determination and allocation of funding of their schools.\u201d\u00a0The legislation would be applicable to Ridgefield, Wilton and the schools in many other towns and cities\u2014 basically all local and regional school districts in the state, except for five: Hartford, Bridgeport, New Haven, Waterbury and Stamford.Among the concerns raised by opponents of the bill are: It gives the new school taxing districts the power to assess, levy, and collect taxes on all property for the purpose of providing educational services.\u00a0 It also gives school districts the power to borrow money and issue bonds. School districts would also gain the power to appropriate funds for the purpose of providing educational services. The bill would also withdraws from towns and cites the powers it gives to school districts \u2014 to assess, levy, and collect taxes; borrow money; and appropriate funds for the purpose of providing educational services. \u201cWith every school district becoming an independent school taxing district, there would no longer be any municipal oversight over the finances of school districts,\u201d Lavielle said. The bill is scheduled for a public hearing Friday, March 15. Anyone interested in submitting testimony may send it by email to PDtestimony @ cga.ct.gov and include the bill number in the email subject line and body of the email. The email should also contain the name and town of the person submitting the testimony. Marconi, who is now the president of the Connecticut Council of Small Towns (COST), said he is having the group\u2019s board members polled to see if they want to take a position on the bill. The membership of COST is about 110 chief elected officials of different Connecticut towns, and about 20 of them are on the board. \u201cCOST will be surveying the Board of Directors,\u201d Marconi said. \u201cIt\u2019s in our bylaws any time a position on a bill is given, it has to be reviewed by the board of directors.\u201d The bill comes in the context of numerous other proposals relating to how schools are run in the state, including some that raised fears of regionalization of schools \u2014 or some aspects of school administration \u2014 that had triggered vehement opposition. \u201cI don\u2019t understand it. It\u2019s not the governor\u2019s bill,\u201d Marconi said. \u201cThe governor submitted his bill and we continue to work on striking language such as \u2018 regionalization \u2019 and another phrases \u2014 \u2018consolidation of school districts.\u2019 We are not opposed to the establishment of a commission on shared school services \u2014 that\u2019s the biggest part of the governor\u2019s bill.\u201d Not the education committee The bill on schools\u2019 fiscal independence is being introduced by the legislature\u2019s Planning and Development Committee \u2014 not notably, the Education Committee.\u00a0 \u201cFrom what I understand, an attempt was made by a single legislator to get it into the Education Committee, but it was not accepted, so they have proposed it to the Planning Committee, who have accepted it,\u201d Marconi said. Marconi wasn\u2019t sure what the bill\u2019s sponsors hoped to accomplish with it, but he said there were some interesting theories and a range of reactions to the bill. \u201cThere are some who feel that this discussion should take place because it will provide clarity for the voters on exactly what education is costing the taxpayer,\u201d Marconi said. There were reports, he said, that the bill might be opposed by the state teachers union, the Connecticut Education Association (CEA), and the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE). Marconi himself was skeptical of legislation so dramatically changing how schools are financed and operated. \u201cOf all the issues the State of Connecticut has, that we hear about all the time, one thing is we\u2019ve been fortunate enough to maintain a high quality of education, and that has been an attraction to many people who are transferring into the greater New York area,\u201d Marconi said. \u201cAnd I\u2019m confused as to why the legislature wants to begin toying with this issue now. There are many, many, many things that need to be fixed, that can keep them busy, without touching education.\u201d Patty Gay of The Wilton Bulletin contributed to this story.