A group of 18 mid-size cities and towns have formed a coalition to push the state for more aid and fewer mandates.
“We’re going to make a showing at the Capitol this session like never before,” Mayor Art Ward said Thursday.
Leaders from the 18 municipalities, which stretch from Enfield to New London, met for the first time last week in West Hartford. They plan to gather again next week in Meriden.
The town manager of Enfield, Matthew Coppler, said Thursday the idea “to make sure the issues that effect us are brought forward” in Hartford.
Coppler said that officials in the towns are preparing lists of ideas for a legislative agenda, concepts they plan to review during the meeting in Meriden.
Ward said that larger cities have no trouble getting noticed during legislative negotiations, but mid-size communities can sometimes fall through the cracks.
Given the budget strains facing nearly every city and town this year, city officials said it’s crucial to put the pressure on Gov. Jodi Rell and the General Assembly to provide enough aid and to drop unfunded mandates that push up the cost to property taxpayers, particularly in the area of education.
Ward said the new coalition includes a wide variety of mid-size municipalities drawn together by their fiscal plight.
“Their concerns are the same as our concerns,” Ward said.
By pulling together, Ward said, they should be able to influence the decision-making about where the money goes.
“We have to let them know we’re at the table,” Ward said.
The city is already a member of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, which lobbies the legislature on municipal issues. But its focus is broader than simply the interests of mid-size towns and cities.
There is also a Connecticut Council of Small Towns that focuses on the needs of the state’s many little municipalities.
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