Planning and Development Committee
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING REGIONALISM.
Joint Favorable Substitute
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Representative Brendan Sharkey, 88th District, Planning and Development
REASONS FOR BILL:
To promote regional cooperation among towns through voluntary incentive programs whereby towns agree on the location future economic development and not to compete for new economic development, share in property taxes generated from new economic development, and receive a share of the sales and use tax revenue. Specifically, to qualify for state sales tax incentives, participating towns must 1) qualify themselves as a federal Economic Development District (EDD), and through a regional agreement 2) agree not to compete with each other for new economic development projects, 3) establish the parameters for sharing new property tax revenues from new development projects, and 4) identify and establish at least three municipal and three education cooperative programs among the participating towns in the region. Cooperative programs do not require 100% participation from all towns in the region, but taken together, each town must be involved in at least one cooperation program. If a region meets the threshold criteria, the towns in that region would be entitled to receive one-sixth (1/6th) of the State sales tax generated within that region. Those funds would be distributed to the participating towns in the region on a per capita basis.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
W.David LeVasseur, Under Secretary, Office of Policy and Management
While we promote regional cooperation should be encouraged, we are concerned that municipalities may not avail themselves of the opportunities under this bill. We would ask that the Committee consider postponing the effective date of various sections of this bill until the current economic crisis is resolved. We are also concerned that not all regions of the state are located in federal economic development districts and that Regional Planning Organizations do not all have the same level of involvement in creating boundaries. Finally, we would ask that the same powers be conferred on Councils of Elected Officials under Section 5 of the bill be extended also to Regional Planning Agencies and Regional Councils of Government.
Susan Bysiewicz, Secretary of the State of Connecticut:
I would like to commend the Smart Growth Working Group for its efforts to develop a comprehensive policy proposal in this area.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Rep. Elissa T. Wright, 41st District
I support bill 6585 because it : encourages more socially and environmentally responsible land use planning: investing in transportation options that reduce vehicle miles traveled; and improving stewardship of natural resources through a more systems-wide approach to preserve Connecticut's natural and cultural assets for the enjoyment of future generations.
Bill Cibes, Advisory Board Chair, HOME Connecticut, 1000 Friends of Connecticut
We support bill 6585 and suggest that you consider modifying the provisions to ensure that the benefits of revenue sharing from new economic development in an economic development district extend to all constituent parts of that district, and do not further segregate needs and resources among the municipalities.
Sarah C. Bronin,
I support HB 6585, which could encourage our 169 municipalities to see themselves as part of a larger and more coherent framework.
Bill Ethier, Chief Executive Officer, Home Builders Association of Connecticut INC.
The HBA of Connecticut supports incentives to promote inter-municipal and regional cooperation. We question, though, whether, financing is available to achieve this goal (section 6) and whether the state will give up a portion of its sales tax for those efforts without raising overall taxes (section 4). We strongly do not support raising taxes or fees for these purposes if that would be the ultimate result. Other comments about the bill include a clarification on what actions or non actions would be deemed to be competing for new economic development and urge that those be defined in the bill.
Chris Wood, Connecticut Chapter of American Planners Association:
This bill appears to add an incentive for municipalities to implement joint provisions of services as currently authorized by CT general statute 7-148cc, adopted in 2001. Assuming fiscal incentives are assured; CCAPA supports this concept as promoting smart planning.
Metro Hartford Alliance
We are in general support of this bill, however in section two it is proposed that the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management be the approving authority for any such plan, and we feel strongly that the review and approval of Regional Economic Development Plans should rest with the Commissioner of Economic and Community Development.
Martin Mador, Legislative and Political Chair, Sierra Club
Sierra Club is in favor of HB 6585 which promotes the principle of regional cooperation. It authorizes regional economic development, including tax sharing and regional considerations in the Plans of Conservation and Development, and instructs regional Councils of Government to facilitate these agreements. Sierra strongly endorses this bill.
Mark N. Paquette, Executive Director, Windham Region Council of Governments
We support the concept of promoting regional cooperation among towns through voluntary incentive programs whereby (1) towns agree on the location of future economic development and not to compete for new economic development, (2) share in property taxes generated from new economic development, and (3) receive a share of the sales and use tax revenue. Further, while we are encouraged by the provision to allow RPAs to access the million dollars available to facilitate multi-municipal agreements pursuant to this act, the current language is very specific to this legislation and would not allow RPAs to conduct the general planning functions previously performed under the now zeroed out SGIA funding from OPM.
Ron Thomas, Connecticut Conference of Municipalities
CCM strongly supports HB 6585, this bill would allow two or more municipalities to enter into agreements to “promote regional economic development” and share 50% of revenue from such development. Chief Elected Officials in each region would meet, on a regular basis, to discuss and act on issues of mutual concern-including economic development, land use planning and joint service delivery. HB 6585 would also provide $1 million to facilitate such inter-local agreements.
Eric J. Brown, Associate Counsel, Connecticut Business and Industry Association
CBIA supports section (1) of this bill except subsection 1(b)(5)(C) which we believe could result in effectively mandating municipalities to join the expensive state health care pool if, due to market conditions or the interests of other municipalities participating in the agreement, establishing a municipal pool is not a practical option. CBIA suggests subsection 1(b)(5)(C) be rewritten as, “(C) sharing of health care risks and costs”.
Heidi Green, President, 1000 Friends of Connecticut
We are in favor of bill 6585. The bill would restore the planning grant that supports the efforts of regional planning organizations to develop and facilitate regional agreements. It also would give municipalities engaged in regional agreements, meeting criteria for regional taxation, economic development; education and land use a share of the sales tax.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Mary Glassman, Capitol Region Council of Governments:
Section six reflects a very narrow role for regional organizations. The emphasis on this bill is on multi-town services but does not address even broader regional efforts.
South Western Regional Planning Association (SWRPA):
SWRPA strongly believes that the $1 million in SGIA funds must be maintained to allow RPO's to achieve a well balanced work program that sufficiently addresses all regional planning needs, including intermunicipal cooperation efforts, and that the specific appropriation proposed in this bill would not serve as a sufficient replacement for the SGIA.
Reported by: Dorian Lockett