Governor’s budget would mean $4.4-million hit to town

A coalition of the rich and angry? Towns holding back taxes collected for the state? Ridgefield’s selectmen were talking about it.

Aghast at a nearly $4.4-million hit that Ridgefield would take next year under Governor Dannel Malloy’s proposed budget, the Board of Selectmen sketched out a three-part plan to fight back against what they see as an unfair targeting of wealthier suburban communities.

The board gave First Selectman Rudy Marconi the go-ahead to pursue three steps:

  • Set up a meeting with State Rep. John Frey and State Senator Toni Boucher to get legislators’ thoughts on the governor’s budget proposal and how best to respond;
  • Contact leaders from other affluent towns hit hard in the governor’s plan, to see if there’s interest in bringing a class action lawsuit against it;
  • Explore the idea of applying pressure on Hartford by holding back a portion of the conveyance taxes on real estate sales that Ridgefield and other towns collect for the state.

“This is targeting Fairfield County, and that’s wrong,” said Selectman Bob Hebert.

“We’re going to start throwing tea in the Norwalk River,” said Selectwoman Maureen Kozlark.

Marconi shared with the selectmen an analysis from the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities that detailed the effect adoption of the governor’s budget would have on Ridgefield.

There are some 13 categories under which the state distributes money to towns and cities, and under the analysis Ridgefield is receiving $2,042,709 for the current 2016-17 fiscal year.

In the coming year, under Malloy’s budget, the town would continue to receive $2,035,240 million under various categories, but it would also be required to send Hartford $4,407,654 to share part of the cost of the teachers’ retirement program, which has in the past been financed entirely by the state.

With the $2,035,240 the town would receive from Hartford in various categories dwarfed by the $4,407,654 teachers’ pension payment due from the town, the net effect on Ridgefield would be to send Hartford $2,372,414 more than the town is due to receive in 2017-18.

Going from receiving $2,042,709 from the state this year in the 2016-17 budget to paying the state a net of $2,372,414 in 2017-18 would represent a $4,415,123 hit to town taxpayers, if the governor’s budget proposal were adopted.

In planning to arrange a discussion session with the town’s representatives — Frey and Boucher — Marconi noted that the governor’s budget was just a proposal, and the final state budget will have to be approved by the legislature.

It may be a tough sell.

“I spoke to John Frey, and he doesn’t see this making it,” Marconi said. “But I’m still worried.”

Read more of this story in next Thursday's print edition of The Ridgefield Press.