WETHERSFIELD - A Town Council Republican-authored draft resolution against an Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) levying of additional sewer charges to members towns in the event of a Hartford nonpayment for the remaining two quarters of the 2017 fiscal year will go to public hearing during Tuesday's Town Council meeting.
The resolution-introduced by Councilors Mike Rell, Jodi Latina, Mike Hurley, and Donna Hemmann toward the end of the February 6 meeting-also speaks out in opposition to altering the MDC charter to allow for additional borrowing.
In meetings held within MDC member towns, representatives from the Commission have stated that such provisions-being sought in the General Assembly-would allow them to cover any future shortfall under the ad valorem formula without resorting to the controversial reserve fund it adopted as a fail-safe mechanism.
Hartford currently faces a $50 million budget deficit, but has made its first two payments for the 2017 fiscal year. Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin is looking for his own concessions at the state level in the form of additional PILOT revenue to cover the void left by state and nonprofit properties that don’t land on the tax rolls.
Bronin has told residents of Wethersfield-as well as other area towns-that his intention is to avoid missing MDC payments altogether through the implementation of fiscal crisis-solving solutions, but he’s seeking the remedy in a tight budget year in which the state is grappling with its own deficits.
As for the resolution, Republican Councilors expressed concerns regarding the possibility of the MDC’s use of the reserve fund to become a “recurring event”, while stating that the Commission “lacks the authority under its Charter, or otherwise, to create a reserve fund to be funded by the member towns.”
The resolution also states that there is a potential for the City of Hartford to divert ad valorem revenue toward “other purposes”, but among the MDC’s legislative proposals would be granting it the ability to impose a lien on such funding streams to ensure that sewer taxes are not utilized in other budget areas.
Mayor Paul Montinieri said that while the MDC’s charter is written for the establishment of a reserve fund, he shares Republican opposition to be being built on additional costs to the member towns.
He said that he hopes that both parties can co-author a final resolution to go to public hearing with, but that he’d want to make revisions to the current version-which he described as “adversarial” in some parts-before the next meeting.
“It’s in our best interest to be partners in the solution,” Montinieri said over the phone. “My preference would be to work a little more closely [with the MDC].”
Last week, West Hartford passed its own resolution, calling for some of the legislative remedies to the MDC charter being pushed by the Commission itself.