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CT's small towns want to know...
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As concerns about the timing of the approval of the state budget mount, small town administrators are speaking out wanting to let state legislators know what the impact of any changes, both financial and procedural, will have on their local budgets.
Speaking on CPTV’s On The Record, Susan Bransfield, First Selectwoman (D) Portland said, “We fear most not getting a budget. It’s imperative that we know what our budgets will be. Our local budgets have already passed, for the most part, but we need to know how much money there will be in cities and towns.”
Small towns feel they are not being heard or are overshadowed by bigger towns and cities that may have louder voices in the legislature.
“We’re not part of any of the discussions and we think that’s imperative because there’s some critical issues that, if done improperly, could really impact us,’ said Coventry Town Manager, John Elsesser, also a guest on the “On The Record” show.
Issues such as changing the implementation of the Education Cost Sharing Fund by reducing the appropriation amount by 14%, and then sending a check directly to the town’s Board of Education, which will leave the towns with a shortfall for that amount, as the 14% is already included in the budgets that have already been ratified by the townspeople.
“It’s a critical issue,” said Elsessser, “and it’s complicated enough so that we don’t seem to think they get it.”
Is regionalization the answer to small town’s budget woes? There may be some areas in which it could be implemented successfully, as Elsesser pointed out, “I think over the last several years towns are looking at all sorts of  things to co-operate. If they, (the state), set the broad parameters of what their goal is, a lot of times we could develop good ways to reach their goals,” he added.
The key may be listening closely to what the towns have to say. “We’re partners: state, cities, towns,” said Bransfield. “We’re all in this together and we need to continue to recognize that and work together.”