Democrats passed a law last spring (I missed it, I confess) requiring the wealthy towns down here to join “regional councils” and even Peter Tesei can see this for the power grab it is. I’m pleasantly surprised by Tesei’s perspicacity. Funny: some of us look across the border and see Westchester County with its corruption, bloated bureaucracy and high taxes and ask “why?”. Democrats ask, “why not?”
Schools are next.
Despite the promised benefits, Fairfield County political leaders fear that a mandate to group towns and cities into larger councils of government for the purpose of infrastructure spending could invite higher taxes.
Under legislation approved in the spring, the leaders of eight towns that make up the South Western Region Metropolitan Planning Organization – including Greenwich, Stamford, and Norwalk — will have to merge into a new council of governments by 2015 to administer federal funds filtered through state transportation officials.
If further legislation were to authorize shifts in local tax revenue toward regional projects, some say the result could, in effect, create a county government system in Connecticut.
“It could happen this year or next year, but I think there is going to be a major play to redistribute resources,” Greenwich First Selectman Peter Teseisaid. “There is no doubt this is the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent. And looking at how poorly Connecticut is doing financially, and the debt burden and taxes in certain communities, the Legislature and governor are going to look to for alternate means to feed the beast.”
Tesei said is unclear how a reorganized planning group might operate, but he said such consolidations can be accompanied by funding formulas that distribute resources based on population. Language accompanying the legislation suggests regions could assume area-wide responsibility for social services, housing, education, and public safety functions in the future, Tesei said.
“In a way, it is a masking of an alternate ways to tax people,” Tesei said. “They’ve already maxed out state taxes and that’s why the economy is so bad. They’ve beaten that horse down, so they get on another one.”
The Municipal Opportunities & Regional Efficiencies Commission, led by State Rep. Tim Larson, D-East Hartford, recommended a range of consolidations, including forming regional school districts for the purpose of providing special education to save money.
UPDATE: Perhaps Peter Tesei isn’t as perspicacious as I’d thought, because the Democrats have flat out announced what this new creation of theirs is and what they intend to do with it: they’ve given it the acronym, “MORE”. Says it all.
(Long since past) time to pack our bags.