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Town leaders ask Malloy for regulatory relief in return for cuts to aid

ROCKY HILL — Leaders from smaller communities are asking Governor Dannel Malloy for specifics when it comes to how the state budget will affect their towns.

Following his State of the State address last week where he said cuts to municipal aid are likely, Governor Malloy spoke at the annual town meeting for the Connecticut Council of Small Towns (COST).

Malloy said 22% of the state budget goes to municipalities and the majority of those funds go toward education. He said any solutions to the $1.5 billion deficit problem are going to be the result of a team effort.

“I know we’re in this together and it’s a tough situation to be in together,” said Malloy.

Dan Champagne, mayor of Vernon, spoke up when Malloy was taking questions from the crowd of community leaders. Champagne asked if small towns could get some kind of relief in return if they are giving up some aid.

“Maybe with the release of some of these regulations we can give up some of the money and it’s not going to hurt us,” said Champagne.

He said, “Any municipal aid that’s removed goes directly to the property tax and people have had enough of that.”

Don Stein, First Selectman of Barkhamstead and an incoming director at COST, said he’s concerned about what cuts will mean for his taxpayers too.

“It’s a very bleak year. We’re a small town. We depend fairly heavily on state aid for road improvements, for education, and the cuts that are being proposed could end up in a dollar for dollar tax increase for our residents,” said Stein.

He said, “The small towns don’t have a lot of frills. They don’t have a lot of extra services that can be cut out.”

Governor Malloy said it’s still too early to give specifics until his final budget proposal is released in February, but he is looking for ways to change mandates to give communities some form of relief.