East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo, Jr. railed against the Governor and state officials Tuesday in response to the State's decision to force municipalities to pick up 50% of the tab to cover the State's "Renters' - Rebate For Elderly/Disabled Renters Tax Relief Program."
Maturo explained, "Public Act 17-4, which was passed in the June 2017 legislative session, allows the OPM Secretary to reduce a town's grants in aid by an amount equal to 50% of the renters rebate assistance made by the state to individuals that reside in the municipality. In opting to do so, the State has created an enormous unfunded mandate for cities and towns across the State."
Last year, 511 East Haven residents applied for and were granted aid totaling $278,000.00 dollars under the renters' rebate program. As a result of the passage of P.A. 17-4, East Haven taxpayers will now be directly on the hook for 50% of that aid.
Maturo noted, "In East Haven alone, this unfunded mandate will require the Town to come up with almost $140,000.00 dollars to cover the State's funding shortfall. In order to meet this mandate without raising taxes, we may be forced to reduce local services or dip into our contingency fund."
According to the State's "Office of Policy and Management" website, State law provides for a reimbursement program for Connecticut renters who are elderly or totally disabled, and whose incomes do not exceed certain limits. Persons renting an apartment or room, or living in cooperative housing or a mobile home may be eligible for rebates of up to $900 for married couples and $700 for single persons. The renters' rebate amount is based on a graduated income scale and the amount of rent and utility payments (excluding telephone) made in the calendar year prior to the year in which the renter applies.
Maturo noted, "Both the Governor and Democratic-controlled legislature have proven inept at handling the State's finances. The State is in a five-billion dollar hole, debt is skyrocketing, and people are feeling the State in droves and the State's solution, embodied in unfunded mandates like this most current plan, appears to be to lump more financial responsibility directly on local towns and cities. Quite frankly, financially responsible towns like East Haven should not be penalized because of the State's inability to manage its own finances."
Maturo explained, "The reduction in funding to local municipalities amounts to an indirect tax increase. It's just another perfect example of how the State's unpredictable economic policies are forcing local towns to scramble and sending people and businesses fleeing for more stable, predictable places to live and work."
Maturo added, "Thanks to this administration's efforts, East Haven is fortunate to have a healthy contingency fund. It's a fund we've spent years fighting to shore up. Now, the State's reckless and irresponsible economic policies threaten to erode this fund and undermine our local fiscal stability. The Governor and our legislators owe it to the towns and to all of the State's residents to come up with a permanent, predictable solution to the State's ongoing budget woes. Lumping unfunded mandates on municipalities months after they've passed their budgets is a completely unacceptable solution."
Maturo concluded, "East Haven residents can rest assured that I will be lobbying our State legislators to address this issue in the current session. At the same time, we will be reviewing our local financial situation to determine how we can meet this repugnant, oppressive, and unfair State mandate with as little disruption as possible to local services."
For more information, contact Joe Coppola at 203-468-3204 or visit www.townofeasthavect.org.