The State of Connecticut’s Office of Policy Management announced a total of more than $50 million in cuts last week that will impact the current fiscal year budget.
By Ronni Newton
West Hartford will be losing $833,283 in state aid over the next six months according to mid-year cuts announced Dec. 9, 2016, by the governor’s budget office.
The cuts, which are being made to funding for the current fiscal year that runs through June 30, 2017, include $401,138 in Educational Cost Sharing (ECS) grants as well as $432,145 in “LoCIP” (Local Capital Improvement) funding which supports public works and other construction projects.
“This is the third largest cut for any municipality,” West Hartford Town Manager Ron Van Winkle said Tuesday about the ECS reduction. Only Fairfield ($570,798) and Westport ($443,947) face greater mid-year funding reductions according to data reported by ctmirror.org. Even with the cuts, West Hartford’s ECS funding still exceeds FY2016 grant money by more than $1 million.
Van Winkle was not entirely surprised that some cuts were coming since the state legislature last year indicated that $20 million in municipal grants would be cut. “But we’re halfway through the fiscal year and now find out. And we didn’t know about the LoCIP. That was a surprise,” he said.
West Hartford’s share of the $30 million LoCIP reduction was the 14th largest among municipalities.
Van Winkle said that West Hartford is lucky to be running a surplus, estimated to be $1.6 million, which will be able to absorb the state cuts. “We’re in good shape to cover the $833,000,” he said.
Although the town won’t need to take any emergency measures to cut spending, Van Winkle said that the plan was to set aside the surplus as the majority of the $1,776,519 reserve fund the town is required to pay into for next fiscal year in the event that the City of Hartford is unable to pay its sewer costs to the MDC.
“That’s now cut in half,” he said.
Van Winkle will submit West Hartford’s FY2018 budget to the Town Council in February, and said that he anticipates more cuts in state funding will be incorporated.
“We can absorb this through our surplus,” he said of the state’s mid-year cuts, but added that for the remainder of the current fiscal year extra care will continue to be taken to ensure that the town is spending as little as possible.
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