OLR Bill Analysis

SB 384

AN ACT PROMOTING REGIONALISM IN THE STATE.

SUMMARY:

The bill establishes a municipal collaboration program, administered by the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) secretary. Any two or more municipalities may submit a plan to the secretary that must provide for joint activities in a wide variety of areas. A copy of the plan must be sent to the legislators representing collaborating municipalities. The bill specifies what must be in the plans and how they are approved by such municipalities.

The secretary must adopt implementing regulations, which must include a system for “assigning a priority to evaluate implementation of municipal collaborative plans”.

Within 30 days after receiving the plan, the secretary must make a written determination on whether it complies with the bill and the implementing regulations. The secretary must send a copy of the determination to each municipality collaborating in the plan.

The secretary, by July 1, 2010, and annually thereafter, must award grants for plans he determines meet the bill's requirements. The amount of grants made to collaborating municipalities after January 1, 2011 must be based on a priority system the secretary develops that evaluates implementation of the plans. Any unencumbered funds in any fiscal year may be carried forward to the next fiscal year to provide additional funds to municipalities that receive the most priority points.

The bill requires the secretary to report to the governor and the Planning and Development Committee on the grants provided under the bill. Each report must include information on the amount of each grant and the activities performed by the municipalities under an approved plan. The secretary must submit a report for FY 10 by February 1, 2011 and a report for each subsequent fiscal year March 1st.

The bill requires the secretary, within available appropriations, to make grants to municipalities to provide technical assistance in developing and implementing municipal collaboration plans to be submitted under the bill. It allows the secretary to adopt regulations regarding these grants.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009

PLANS CONTENTS

The plans must be in the form and manner the secretary prescribes. Each plan must establish procedures to amend, terminate, withdraw from, and implementation of the plan. The municipalities that are collaborating in the plan must hold a public hearing on it.

The bill requires the plans to include provisions for joint activities for:

1. capital improvements, including proposals for cooperatively bidding or contracting to build or purchase capital assets and the shared use of buildings;

2. cooperative energy, including soliciting bids for the best prices for electricity, gasoline, and heating fuel and collaboration on distributive (on-site) generation and other sustainable energy projects;

3. shared services, including an analysis of whether savings could be obtained in-house or through joint bids;

4. health insurance through pooling of municipal employees;

5. highway maintenance;

6. transit-oriented development that identifies areas in all the participating municipalities for economic and residential growth based on existing commercial, industrial, and transportation infrastructure;

7. cooperative revenue sharing from new economic development;

8. special education, in consultation with regional education service centers, including development of strategies for shared transportation, proposals for more efficient special education services, and a method for assessing the benefits of in-house regionalized services compared to regional bids;

9. consolidation of early childhood programs, such as Head Start, School Readiness, and pre-kindergarten programs;

10. school construction;

11. regional water supply and natural resources protection;

12. arts and culture;

13. agriculture and food security; and

14. regional recreation.

The bill appears to require, the plan to include provisions for joint activities in all of these areas.

PLAN APPROVAL

The plan must be approved by each collaborating municipality by resolution of its legislative body. The legislative body is the board of selectmen; town council; city council; board of alderman; board of directors; board of representatives; or board of the mayor and burgesses of a town, city, or consolidated town and borough. After approving the plan, collaborating municipalities must send a copy to the secretary.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Planning and Development Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

19

Nay

0

(03/20/2009)