WETHERSFIELD - While it may be awhile before Wethersfield knows specifics regarding the real impact of the Metropolitan District Commission’s (MDC) reserve plan for its 7 member towns to cover any costs left hanging by the financially-ailing Hartford, taxpayers will not shoulder extra costs in the event that the municipality is ordered to pay more for sewer services, said Mayor Paul Montinieri on Friday.
Montinieri expressed cautious optimism regarding the MDC’s bond rating under the reserve plan-put in place a couple of weeks ago in a widely criticized MDC vote that Commission leadership said was prompted by the need to restore the confidence of prospective bond buyers-which he says should improve and hopefully brighten the financial picture for the regional entity.
But just in case, the town will be preparing to fund any extra sewer costs-additional property tax revenue directed to the MDC under the ad valorem structure-through a combination of reserves and contingency, Montinieri said.
“In the worst case scenario, it will not come from taxes,” he said. “We will not raise taxes for this reserve.”
The town’s reserve fund currently has about 12 percent of its annual budget-north of the state Bond Council’s-recommended 8-10 percent-according to Montinieri.
As the Council approaches another budget cycle, Montinieri expressed a desire to keep any increases to a minimal, but admitted that a slew of factors-such as state budget deficit-driven municipal aid reductions in Education Cost Share (ECS) other areas-will make it another tight year.
“We’re gonna have a bigger impact than the hole in the MDC,” he said. “We’re all going to have to brace for the state’s reality.”
As for the MDC, the last projection had Wethersfield paying an additional $600,000. It was $1.2 million, but then Hartford committed to paying the first two quarters worth of its share for the 2017 fiscal year.
Hartford pays 26.7 percent of the $41 million in sewer tax revenue anticipated by the MDC, according to Commission Chair Bill DiBella.
During a round of meetings in each of the MDC’s member towns, DiBella expressed that he is looking to avoid calling on the reserve fund altogether-he hopes through the General Assembly next year.
DiBella said that they would request a review of their charter, and changes that would allow them to borrow for operating costs and issue “super liens” on municipalities to prevent property tax revenue pegged for the sewer tax from becoming part of their operating budget.