STATE BUDGET NEGOTIATIONS
The Governor & General Assemblyâ€™s budget talks are underway, and vital municipal issues are being extensively debated.
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OFFICERS President, Neil O’Leary Mayor of Waterbury 1st Vice President, Michael Freda First Selectman of North Haven 2nd Vice President, Luke A. Bronin, Mayor of Hartford DIRECTORS Tom Banisch, First Selectman of Madison Robert M. Congdon, First Selectman of Preston John A. Elsesser, Town Manager of Coventry
Inside this issue...
Joseph P. Ganim, Mayor of Bridgeport Toni N. Harp, Mayor of New Haven Barbara M. Henry, First Selectman of Roxbury Matthew Knickerbocker, First Selectman of Bethel Catherine Iino, First Selectwoman of Killingworth Marcia A. Leclerc, Mayor of East Hartford Curt Leng, Mayor of Hamden W. Kurt Miller, First Selectman of Seymour Rudolph P. Marconi, First Selectman of Ridgefield Leo Paul, First Selectman of Litchfield Brandon Robertson, Town Manager of Avon John Salomone, City Manager of Norwich Scott Shanley, General Manager of Manchester Jayme J. Stevenson, First Selectman of Darien Erin Stewart, Mayor of New Britain Daniel Syme, First Selectman of Scotland Michael C. Tetreau, First Selectman of Fairfield Mark B. Walter, Town Administrator of Columbia PAST PRESIDENTS Mark D. Boughton Mayor of Danbury Matthew B. Galligan Town Manager of South Windsor Herbert C. Rosenthal former First Selectman of Newtown Susan S. Bransfield First Selectwoman of Portland
Finance & Appropriations Budget
Shifting Teachers’ Pensions Cost: Bad Idea
Landmark CCM/Labor PTSD Agreement
MBR Reform Needed
2019 Municipal Unity Week
12 CCM CT Charity Triple Crown Highlights 14
Emergency Management Symposium 2019
News from Members
HONORARY BOARD MEMBERS Elizabeth Paterson, former Mayor of Mansfield Stephen Cassano, Selectman of Manchester Steven R. Werbner, Town Manager of Tolland CCM STAFF Executive Director, Joe DeLong Deputy Director, Ron Thomas Managing Editor, Kevin Maloney Layout & Design, Matthew Ford Writer, Christopher Gilson
Connecticut Town & City © 2019 Connecticut Conference of Municipalities
MAY 2019 | CONNECTICUT TOWN & CITY | 3
Budget Writing Committees Submit Proposal Budget negotiations with Governor and Legislative Leaders Commence
he Appropriations and Finance committees have rejected a proposal that would shift $73 million in teacher pension costs onto towns and cities. It is one of the major victories for municipal governments and property taxpayers across the state to come out during this legislative session, where key municipal issues and taxes are being decided. As it originally appeared in HB 7150, this proposal was meant as a way for municipalities to have some “skin in the game,” while refusing to accept that Connecticut’s towns and cities already do just that. Board of Education costs make upwards of 80% of municipalities’ budget. The proposal threatened to shift the financial burden onto property taxpayers. It would not provide towns with (a) controls over teacher contracts, or (b) meaningful mandates reform or revenue diversification initiatives. If enacted, it would have been the largest unfunded mandate in recent history. Unfortunately, the proposal is likely to arise once again based on comments made by Governor Lamont and leaders of the Appropriations Committee. We are pleased, on the other hand, that the Appropriations Committee budget recommendations took steps forward for public education. One way is allocating more funding for local public education, by $37.5 million in the next fiscal year and $78 million in FY 21. CCM successfully fought a proposal to accelerate the reduction in Education Cost Sharing (ECS) funding for certain towns. This proposal would have seen ECS
4 | CONNECTICUT TOWN & CITY | MAY 2019
funding decrease over three years instead of seven as initially proposed. As it stands, the phase out will be over 10 years, and CCM will be closely monitoring this. The Finance Committee also advanced two local revenue-diversification proposals for municipal governments: a prepared food tax, which will be distributed at the point of sale and is part of the overall state budget proposal and towns and cities will be able to assess stormwater fees related to the cost of MS4 compliance. The finance committee did not act on bills exempting motor vehicles from the property tax and capping the mill rate on real property of utility companies. It also passed a three percent local sales tax on the retail sale of cannabis that would be distributed by the State to municipalities based on the point of sale. “The two committees that play the dominant and lead role in setting state budget priorities in the last weeks of the General Assembly session stepped forward and took numerous actions that will provide greater fiscal support for towns and cities and property taxpayers in every region of Connecticut,” said Joe DeLong, CCM Executive Director. CCM applauds these decisions by the Appropriations and Finance Committees, which protected and advanced the interests of municipal governments and property taxpayers across Connecticut. Your advocacy staff is working hard to ensure the final budget package protects towns and cities, and their property taxpayers.
A Bad Proposal Is Always A Bad Idea Shifting pensions to municipalities doesn’t make sense
hile this legislative session has been filled with high profile news proposals — school regionalization bills, legalizing recreational marijuana, and the return of tolls to Connecticut roads — the one story that seems to have disappeared is the push to funding of a large swath of Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) costs onto local governments. In HB 7150, An Act Implementing The Governor’s Budget Recommendations Concerning Education, there was a proposal that would represent a collosal unfunded state mandate. This proposal requires municipalities to contribute $73 million per year, thereby shifting such payments onto Connecticut property taxpayers. While this bill no longer contains the language, the idea has become pervasive, and will continue to be considered through the end of the legislative session by Governor Lamont and the General Assembly. Recently, the Appropriations Committee signaled that they intend to seek this shift. What’s problematic about this proposal is that, while the towns and cities of Connecticut certainly understand the fiscal difficulties facing the state, the state is turning a deaf ear to the difficulties municipalities are already facing and adding to them. The state wants municipalities to pay into a system that they did not develop or mismanage. Nor does the proposal provide meaningful, comprehensive mandate reform. This is especially troubling given that municipalities have only one means to raise funds for education, the regressive property tax. Connecticut already has the 3rd highest property tax rate in the country. Add to that the newly enacted State and Local Tax (SALT) cap, which will only amplify the intense negative fiscal impact this proposal will have on local property taxpayers.
The Governor and the state’s legislators must ask themselves if a property tax increase is in the best interest of the state, and to consider what kind of impact this proposal will have on local economies and communities. SB 873, An Act Stabilizing The Teachers’ Retirement Fund, is certainly a step in the right direction. It would restructure the teachers’ pension system and change the amortization methodology. Dedicating a portion of lottery proceeds to TRS will certainly help stabilize the state’s financial obligation, as well as re-amortizing the schedule of payments. But these ideas are no spoonful of sugar to make a transfer of 25% of the normal cost to the Teachers’ Retirement System (5% for distressed municipalities) seem palat-
able. Combine with this the proposal to cut Education Cost Sharing (ECS) over three years giving towns and cities barely any time to adjust to reductions. This move would be a dual blow to many communities who will see cuts in ECS and at the same time they are required to contribute more to TRS. If municipalities were part of that initial conversation, it might have been better understood what a 25% shift of pension obligations would do to towns and cities, the property tax, and the citizens of Connecticut. Pension reform should not be enacted in a haphazard way. Piling on a monumental unfunded state mandate is not sound, reasonable or fair to already inundated property taxpayers.
MAY 2019 | CONNECTICUT TOWN & CITY | 5
Announcement of the compromise bill took place on May 13, 2019 at the Capitol
CCM & Labor Reach Accord On PTSD
Previous PTSD proposals were not considerate of effect on towns/cities
ver the last year, municipal officials, fire and police employee groups have been at the table working on legislation that would provide limited benefits to police officers and firefighters who have been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) arising from incidents that happened on the job. This landmark compromise provides for our first responders, as well as manages costs to municipalities. Work was done in concert with an out-of-state consultant who has worked on this issue in several other states, as well as CIRMA and attorneys practicing in workers’ compensation, to ensure the language accurately functions within current statutes. SB 164 will provide police officers, firefighters, and parole officers the ability to obtain workers’ compensation benefits when diagnosed with PTSD after witnessing a critical incident. Critically, the diagnosis of PTSD will be in accordance with the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders by a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist that has completed the necessary education and training. Because of the nature of mental health diagnosis, this proposal extends from the current 28 days to 180 days for the employer/insurer to decide the acceptance or denial of this claim. Most importantly, this proposal does not provide for permanent benefits under the workers compensation act. It incentivizes treatment and healing in order to allow a first responder the ability to continue his/her crucial job.
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If the psychiatrist/psychologist agrees that the first responder has experienced one of 11 qualifying events, compensation shall be limited to select workers’ compensation benefits for up to 52 weeks from diagnosis. This proposal requires the Police Officer Standards and Training Council (POST) along with the Commission on Fire Prevention and Control to develop a model critical incident and peer support policy for police and firefighters. Additionally, it requires each police and fire department, by January 1, 2020, to develop a policy in accordance with the state promulgated policy, create a peer support system, and refer these first responders to licensed mental health providers. This would include developing and providing training on techniques on resilience and self-care. Upon returning to the job after an incident and a licensed clinician deems them able, an officer will be allowed to have their firearm returned in a more timely manner. The proposal also does not require a select number of years of employment in order to be eligible, nor does it modify current benefits provided to police officers who used deadly force. PTSD legislation like this is in its infancy around the country, and without towns having a seat at the table, this proposal would not have given sufficient thought to the true effect on municipalities. CCM brought the municipal side to these important discussions, with Mayors Neil O’Leary and Ellen Zoppo-Sassu and First Selectman Kurt Miller, working with our Advocacy department, CIRMA, and others.
MBR Gets F from Municipalities
Much-needed exemptions still needed from unwieldy mandate
f you were to ask municipal leaders what concerns them about public education costs, the Municipal Budget Requirement (MBR) would be nearly at the top of their list. CCM has been working closely with the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) to come up with a compromise MBR proposal before legislature adjourns in June. Education is the largest single item in municipal budgets, making up more than three-quarters of the total budget in some communities. A mandate like the MBR says that despite any good reason — such as shrinking student base or if a special needs student graduates or moves out — you cannot decrease the amount you spend. If you spent $100,000 last year, you must spend $100,000 this year. The state knows how confining this is, but place this burden on municipalities anyway. Connecticut has always prided itself on quality public education, and the MBR tied municipal spending to a minimum per pupil spending. Over time, that connection became in name only, and its goal became to prohibit a town from supplanting local education funding when it received increases from the state. By law, our school districts are tested on their performance through the State’s Accountability Index. This system looks at not only graduation rates, but also chronic absenteeism and physical fitness of students, to give a deeper and fuller report of a school district’s success. Those that rank at the bottom of that scale become Alliance Districts, where extra state dollars are funneled to help them reach higher standards of excellence. Currently, there are 33 Alliance Districts designated for Fiscal Years 18-22, and they serve more than 200,000 students in more than 410 schools,
making up a full third of our education system in Connecticut. The state has already implemented other programs to identify and help underperforming schools, so it makes sense to eliminate the MBR for non-Alliance Districts altogether. Furthermore, tying budgets to a strict limit does not allow for fluctuations that schools see when it comes to their student populations.
There are 70,000 special education students in the state, and one out of every five dollars spent on education goes to their care and education.
After the Great Recession of 2008, the population in America took a downward trend. Millennials are having fewer children than any generation before them so it is no surprise then that Connecticut’s school populations are declining. But towns have no recourse under the MBR to lower their budgets to reflect this current population trend. One group that is growing is special education students. There are 70,000 special education students in the state, and one out of every five dollars spent on education goes to their care and education. Because the federal government falls short on its share — it had
promised 40 percent, but only pays 10 — the majority of these costs fall onto the state and municipalities. Towns and cities try to plan for these expenses, but a single special-needs child moving out of town can represent hundreds of thousands of dollars. In one instance in Southeastern Connecticut, a child was budgeted $260,000 for their special care, until they moved one town over. If the state does not move to eliminate the MBR for all non-Alliance Districts, then special exceptions must be made to allow school districts, regional school districts and municipalities to reduce the MBR to reflect the costs associated with special education students when such students leave the district. Common sense exemptions could be reflected in other areas. For one, you could create exemptions for municipalities that demonstrated savings through increased efficiencies or regional collaborations, or for towns that pay more than 50 percent of their education costs. Additionally, payments toward the Teachers’ Retirement System should count towards meeting the obligations of the MBR. Governor Lamont has stated that he wants more carrots than sticks in his vision of Connecticut, and the MBR definitely fits in the latter. Municipal officials take very seriously the responsibility to provide quality public education. They want students to learn, develop, and realize their potential. They examine and recommend ways to be innovative and create efficiencies without negatively impacting the classroom experience. Eliminating the MBR for all non-Alliance Districts, or greatly expanding the exemptions is such a cost-effective measure. It’s an unnecessary and unwieldy mandate, and should be relegated to the history books.
MAY 2019 | CONNECTICUT TOWN & CITY | 7
A Major Milestone
100 percent membership shows that power is in numbers
veryone knows how hard it is to get to 100%. You see it in the news, online, and on TV — opportunities abound for dissenting opinion. So when CCM reached 100% percent membership for the first time in our history, we realized how special a moment that was. It is essential to pause and reflect that starting in March of 2019, every town and city in Connecticut felt that it was important to work together, to reach consensus, and to achieve goals that no one municipality could achieve alone. Heading into the final stretch of this long legislative session, our first with Governor Ned Lamont, we were able to send the message that every municipality in Connecticut, despite any differences there may be at the local level, is fighting together to make sure our voices are heard with the Governor and the General Assembly. “Every city and town now sees the value of and important role that CCM plays,” noted Neil O’Leary, Mayor of Waterbury and President of CCM, “in protecting the interests of towns and cities speaking as one collective voice to the Governor, General Assembly, and other state government leaders.”
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CCM is much more than just the collective voice of Connecticut’s towns and cities: our value is in the services we offer. Mayor O’Leary said “this milestone says an awful lot about the value and high level of CCM’s membership services in 2019.” The service we provide to you as the leading state-local think tank and premier local government advocate at the State Capitol, is because of our mission: improving the everyday life for residents of Connecticut. As Executive Director Joe DeLong noted, “everything CCM does is designed to help local leaders provide an array of critical public services more effectively and cost efficiently.” As we reflect upon this milestone, we must also reflect on the work to be done in the times ahead. With 100% membership, we can continue to work tirelessly against unfunded mandates and for the many reforms we propose in This Report Is Different. The power we have as a group is greater than the power we have individually, and before we get back to our important work, we must note that Connecticut is nothing without its towns and cities, and CCM is nothing without you, our revered members.
Notes From The Membership
CCM listens to comments and suggestions from municipal officials
t’s been a little less than four years since CCM last asked our membership how we are doing, and we felt like the time was ripe for some fresh feedback. We asked you to rate the services that CCM offers, sprinkled in a few new ideas, and asked for direction for what we offer and what issues are facing your communities in 2019. Here’s what you had to say. One thing we are happy to report is that you are genuinely pleased with the services that we offer, but that doesn’t mean that every single one of you loved them all equally. Our Free Training and Education Workshops were far and away the most popular service we offer, receiving an average of 8.12 on a scale of 1 – 10, but an astounding 36 perfect 10s. Many of the comments we received asked for more topics, more workshops, and more locations. Research and Information, Public Policy, Labor Relations Data and Research and Government Finance rounded out the top five services we offer, which is great because those are CCM’s core offerings. It’s nice to see feedback telling us that
what we work so hard on is working well for you, our members. There are other services that do need some work. While still getting positive feedback, the GrantFinder Service doesn’t go far enough for many of you, and it polled at the bottom of the pack. That information is good to hear, and when asked for suggestions for new services, a Grant Writing Service was near the top, just below Group Purchasing. Based on your answers, many municipal leaders are looking for help not just finding the grants, but assistance in taking the lead and writing grants. Another positive is that many officials are looking for help in their IT departments; with cybersecurity, strategic technology planning, and IT Support. Already soft-launched for 2019 is IT-in-a-Box, a new program that aims to solve any and all tech issues a municipality might have from websites to cloud-based servers to cybersecurity. CCM is happy to anticipate the needs of our members, and aims to be on the forefront of these issues. Both the Annual Fall Convention
and Spring Symposium on Emergency Management were popular, with the former getting just a tenth of a point higher than the latter. CCM, like municipal leaders, is concerned about the fiscal condition of the state. We are engaged in striking down unfunded mandates, working on ways to help municipalities lower property taxes through the proposals in This Report Is Different. We are working hard every day to fight for a more fiscally sound Connecticut. Overall, our respondents had a lot of things to say, most of them positive, but also some areas where members want to see us do more. That’s not a bad thing. In each of our 50-plus years, CCM has sought to do the most that it can for our membership, and those who read our annual report know that we saw a lot of growth in 2018. That momentum will not stop in 2019. We are always open for comments and suggestions about CCM’s services, so please don’t wait for the next time we do a survey to let us know how you feel.
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MAY 2019 | CONNECTICUT TOWN & CITY | 9
Bridgeport Officials Elected To Top NLC Spots Lydia Martinez and AmyMarie Vizzo-Paniccia elected president of constituency groups
ridgeport City Clerk Lydia Martinez and AmyMarie Vizzo-Paniccia recently were elected president to two constituency groups, Hispanic Elected Local Officials (HELO) and Women in Municipal Government (WIMG) respectively, within the National League of Cities (NLC). Leadership is elected annually at the NLC Congress of Cities for both constituency groups. HELO is a network and caucus aimed at giving a voice to Hispanic and Latino officials. The group has been around since 1976, and they develop policy and discuss issues directly affecting Hispanic and Latino communities, and providing guidance to the NLC Board of Directors. WIMG is similar to HELO as a constituency group, and has roots that go back to 1974, becoming part of NLC in 1979. WIMG aims to raise awareness about issues of concern to women. In addition to giving a voice to women who already have been elected, WIMG also encourages women to seek public office, to ensure that they hold leadership positions, and that they have a seat at the table. In addition to naming both Martinez and Vizzo-Paniccia as presidents of their respective constituency
groups, Bridgeport has the distinct honor of hosting both the HELO and WIMG Annual Summer Conference this July. This year’s schedule includes how to strengthen governance skills, finding solutions to challenging problems in your hometown, and opportunities to becoming a future leader of NLC. Both Lydia Martinez and AmyMarie Vizzo-Paniccia, as leaders of their respective constituency groups, as well as the Annual Summer Conference, will bring new ideas from around the country into Connecticut and from Connecticut back out to municipalities across the country.
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MCS assists CCM members, their school districts and local public agencies with a full complement of essential services, including:
Grant writing and researching • RFP drafting • Project management Operational reviews • Change implementation • Organizational studies Strategic planning • Finance and budgeting • Purchasing Facilities management • Temporary staffing Contact Andy Merola: 203 498-3056, or email@example.com for additional information.
10 | CONNECTICUT TOWN & CITY | MAY 2019
We’re Coming To Your Town
Municipal Unity Week brought CCM to you for great conversations during crucial moments
ecause so many of our member towns were represented, you probably already know about Municipal Unity Week, which took place in mid-April, right during the heart of the legislative session. In meetings in Norwalk City Hall, Torrington City Hall, Hamden Memorial Town Hall, The Glastonbury Boathouse, Groton Town Hall Annex, and the Eastern Connecticut Educational Service Center in Hampton, town and city leaders engaged with Executive Director Joe DeLong and Deputy Director Ron Thomas on issues facing municipalities in 2019. The meetings provided an opportunity for municipal leaders to have direct access to the behindthe-scenes information from our Directors and Public Policy & Advocacy staff. They were held at a pivotal mid-session point at the State Capitol, and in these discussions, we were able to separate what has life from what is just background noise.
Executive Director Joe DeLong
Some of the primary topics of discussion were shared services, municipal revenue diversification, unfunded mandates, PTSD, Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), tolls, reforms to the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System (MERS), Minimum Budget Requirement (MBR), and labor bills such as Paid Family Medical Leave (PFMLA) and the minimum wage. You were able to let us know that you are looking for ways for the state to help towns without “just handing you money,” as one leader put it. The State Police communications system was just one example that was proposed. This was also a test run of our new live-streaming capabilities. Events that were held in Norwalk, Hamden, and Groton were live-streamed to Torrington, Glastonbury, and Hampton. Because the technology worked so well, CCM plans to bring its podcast, The Municipal Voice, into your towns to highlight stories from around the state.
Hamden Memorial Town Hall
Since the Municipal Unity Week forums were so warmly received, we plan to keep holding these events at key times throughout the year. We know that municipal leaders have jam-packed schedules, one CEO commenting that CEOs “don’t have the luxury of being out all day.” That’s why we came to you. And remember, as Executive Director DeLong said, we work for you. We want to hear from you throughout the year. Our many talented and knowledgeable staff are just a phone call or email away. We want to thank all the municipal leaders who attended the regional forums and for creating an interactive and informative dialogue on issues that matter to towns and cities.
Groton Town Hall Annex
MAY 2019 | CONNECTICUT TOWN & CITY | 11
Connecticut Charity Triple Crown
Three charities were celebrated and supported with fun event
he second annual Connecticut Charity Triple Crown, which took place at the Hartford Club on May 10, was a rousing success once again with over 200 municipal and state leaders, business executives, and guests attending. Three organizations, the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR), Journey Home, and Parent Child Resource Center (PCRC). Over an evening of Triple Crown-themed food, fun, and entertainment, people bid on items during silent and live auctions. The hot ticket items this year were two different trips to Fenway Park: four tickets to Red Sox games and two tickets to Billy Joel’s sold out concert at the Boston baseball institution. Other items include his and hers Apple Watches, a mid-century modern Knoll chair, 50” Samsung television, tickets to a Yale Repertory show, and many, many other items donated from around the state. Music was provided by a string quartet from the University of Hartford School of Music. The event even included an appearance by Miss Connecticut USA 2019 Acacia Courtney. Raffle prizes were distributed to attendees throughout the night. And while everyone looked amazing, the winners of the best dressed contest certainly were deserving of the award! This year’s sponsors included CIRMA, Foxwoods Resort Casino, Fuss & O’Neill, Mesirow Financial, De
Clercq Office Group, Sullivan & LeShane, Johnson Controls, Bankwell, Murtha Cullina, CAL Business Solutions, Webster Bank, Hartford Flavor Company, and Litchfield Distillery. The benefitting organizations were: The Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery envisions a world where the power, hope and healing of recovery from alcohol and other drug addiction is thoroughly understood and embraced. CCAR is here to help Connecticut residents navigate the recovery community, by connecting them with others in recovery and providing access to area support services. Journey Home’s mission is to ensure a home for all. We believe the most powerful way to do this is collectively – by working together with service providers, elected officials, businesses and local communities to end homelessness in the Capital region of Connecticut. Journey Home applies sustainable solutions to the barriers that create cycles of homelessness. The Mission of the Parent Child Resource Center is “Saving Lives by Passionately Caring for Children, Families and Community.” Through a comprehensive range of programs, PCRC helps children, from infancy through high school, and their families address significant behavioral health challenges, so they can develop to their fullest potential and make our community stronger.
Charity Organizations & CCM Executive Director : Michael Wynne of PCRC, Philip Valentine of CCAR, Sara Salomons of Journey Home, and Joe DeLong, Executive Director of CCM
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MAY 2019 | CONNECTICUT TOWN & CITY | 13
14th Annual EMS Is Success Full day of information for public safety officials
he 14th Annual Connecticut Emergency Management Symposium (EMS), held on April 25 at the Red Lion Hotel in Cromwell, was a great success for the more than 400 local government leaders that attended the event. EMS is co-sponsored by CCM, the Connecticut Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS), the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP), and the CT Department of Public Health (DPH). Opening remarks were delivered by Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz, Master of Ceremonies William Hackett, State Emergency Management Director, as well as CCM Executive Director Joe DeLong. DESPP Commissioner James Rovella and DPH Commissioner Renee Coleman-Mitchell, M.P.H also opened the day to panel discussions and the exhibit hall, which was full with the newest innovations and resources in the Emergency Management field. Starting the day was a two part panel on local disasters. Part one included Emergency Support Function (ESF) response to industrial fire, and panel two was about ESF response to severe weather. Discussions included municipal response and collaboration. Another major area of focus is the Information Officer (IO). In the workshop, towns were urged to have an IO on staff who is experienced and ready to engage on social media in a crisis. Keeping people safe means
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Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz starts off EMS
keeping them informed, and people get information from social media. Other discussion topics included Syndromic Surveillance from Power Outages to Rock Concerts, determining when federal assistance is warranted, and two panels updating attendees on school security and cybersecurity initiatives. All in all it was a jam-packed day with informative and useful seminars and tips that town leaders can bring back home to make sure their workers and departments are as prepared as they possibly can be for whatever lies ahead.
MAY 2019 | CONNECTICUT TOWN & CITY | 15
MCS Continues To Expand
New consultants add areas of expertise to already substantial offering
y now, many of you will know and have worked with our Municipal Consulting Service. In our pursuit to continue to add benefits, just last year we added Executive Search recognizing that hiring the best people requires both a significant investment of time and effort. This year we are adding consultants who will help you with your grants and HR needs. Our three new consultants, Cathy Diana, Andrea Sangrey, and Anne Tack, are there to help member municipalities in their areas of expertise. Cathy Diana brings to CCM 20 years of professional experience, including 14 years
Bring your future into focus blumshapiro.com As the largest regional accounting, tax and business advisory firm based in New England, we work with many municipalities to address their complex needs in today’s changing government landscape. With over 35 years of helping cities and towns, we’re committed to doing what it takes to help our clients reach the next level of success. 866.356.BLUM Connecticut | Massachusetts | Rhode Island
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of municipal and Board of Education human resources experience. She will focus on policies & procedeures, employee relations, legal compliance, risk management, cross-functional communication, and staffing & recruiting. She can ensure compliance with collective bargaining agreements, develop job descriptions, and help towns recruit the talent they need to succeed. Andrea Sangrey comes from the American and Connecticut Planning Associations. She will assist municipalities with her 15-plus years of grant and budget management experience, which includes community development and municipal planning. Her distinct areas of focus include grant development/ management, project management, municipal or land use planning, community development, transportation, hazard mitigation, and public engagement. She has successfully procured for local and state non-profits, and has managed large projects and grants. Anne Tack has 20 plus years of grants experience working as both a grant researcher and writer. She has worked with communities, foundations, and local governments. She is an excellent program planner and strategist with experience developing business plans, policies and procedures. In addition to grant writing, her other focus areas will be in program development, grant proposal review, and prospect research. Their expertise will be welcome alongside our current consultants. MCS services are provided by highly qualified consultants with a variety of experience working with and for local governments and school districts. CCM’s full list of MCS services include: Grant writing and researching, RFP drafting, project management, operational reviews, change implementation, organizational studies, strategic planning, finance and budgeting, purchasing, facilities management, and temporary staffing. For more information contact Andy Merola at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-498-3056.
CIRMA Leadership Change for CIRMA’s Board of Directors Jayme Stevenson Elected as Chairman of the Board
avid Demchak, President & CEO, announced at CIRMA’s Annual Meeting in January that Barbara Henry, First Selectman of Roxbury, would step down as Chairman of CIRMA’s Board of Directors effective March 2019. Henry joined the CIRMA Board in 2011 and held the position of Board Chair since 2015. “Over the past few years I have had the great opportunity to see the strong leader Barbara is, which is not surprising given her long tenure as First Selectman in Roxbury”, said David Demchak. Under Henry’s leadership and guidance, CIRMA’s membership and financial strength reached new milestones, the value of products and services provided to members were advanced, she led CIRMA through new and better organizational alignment, and promoted and supported proactive and transparent governance and the greater engagement of the entire Board. In recognition of her outstanding service to CIRMA and its membership, Henry was presented with the Chairman’s Gavel. At the April 2019 meeting of CIRMA’s Board of Directors, Jayme Stevenson, First Selectman of Darien, was elected to the position of Chairman of the Board. She had previously been Vice Chair of the Board. Before becoming First Selectman of Darien in 2011, Stevenson served on the Board of Selectmen. She
CIRMA announces training partnership with CCM! CIRMA training and education programs are now eligible for educational hours that can be used towards completing CCM’s Certified Connecticut Municipal Official (CCMO) program. CIRMA’s training and education programs are tailored specifically for municipalities and school districts and continue to be the cornerstone of our services to members. Training and education focuses on teaching the skills and understanding you need to successfully prevent accidents, control losses and avoid liability. CIRMA’s E-Learning Center extends the reach of our Risk Management Training & Education programs, enabling employees to learn important safety topics-when and where their work schedule demands, from any computer or mobile device with internet access. To learn more about CIRMA’s training and education programs contact your CIRMA Risk Management Consultant or visit www.CIRMA.org.
serves as Chairman of the Southwestern Region Metropolitan Planning Organization, Chairman of the Western Connecticut Council of Governments, and is a board member of Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and well as The Rowan Center. Before leaving the workforce to raise 5 children, Stevenson served as Vice President, Jayme Stevenson, Chairman, Asset-Backed Finance at Standard & Poor’s CorpoCIRMA Board of Directors ration. She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business and Telecommunications from Arizona State University. Tom Banisch, First Selectman of Madison, was elected as Vice Chair of the Board. He also serves on CIRMA’s Investment Committee and the Risk Management Advisory Committee. “The election of Jayme as chair and Tom as vice chair presents strong succession in the governance of CIRMA and I look forward to working with them as we continue to help our members build better, safer communities to live, learn, and work in” said David Demchak.
Call for Entries! CIRMA’S Excellence in Risk Management Awards Program Opens July 1st CIRMA’s Excellence in Risk Management Awards Program honors the achievements of those CIRMA members who generate significant impact through their risk management programs and initiatives. Award recipients each receive a $2,500 Risk Management Grant which is presented at CIRMA’s Annual Meeting in January. Applications will be accepted from July 1st through August 30th. CIRMA encourages its members to apply. For more information and to download an Award Application, please visit www.CIRMA.org. MAY 2019 | CONNECTICUT TOWN & CITY | 17
CIRMA CIRMA Welcomes New Staff Central to CIRMA’s success is its employees
IRMA continues to build its business expertise with the addition of new staff. “CIRMA has an incredibly talented and dedicated team. They are the foundation of our proven track record and future. We continue to build on this strength with
Richard Bielak will be working with Pamela Keyes, Vice President for Risk Management and Business Analytics, as a Jr. Software Engineer in the Business Analytics Unit. Richard, a resident of Wethersfield, is a recent graduate from the College of the Holy Cross with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics and a minor in Computer Science.
Brian Carabetta joins Cynthia Mancini, Liability-Auto-Property Unit Manager, and Bruce Clinger, Claim Program Manager, as a Property Claims Representative. Brian, a resident of Meriden, has over 20 years of experience in commercial property claims. Prior to joining CIRMA, he worked with Insurance Adjustment Services as a Claims Adjuster where he was responsible for personal and commercial property claims of varying complexities.
Joanna Saucier will be working with David Demchak in the position of Executive Administrator. Jo, a resident of Madison, has over 20 years of experience working with C-Level Executives and supporting Boards of Directors. Prior to joining CIRMA, Jo held the position of Executive Assistant to the Chief Portfolio and Strategy Officer at Alexion Pharmaceuticals located in New Haven.
a balanced blend of strategic hires of experienced insurance professionals, combined with selective recruitment from our highly successful intern and higher education alliance programs,” said David Demchak, president and chief executive officer, CIRMA.
David Villecco will be working with Betsy Trudeau, Underwriting Administrative Team Leader, and Fiona Porto, Vice President for Underwriting, in the position of Underwriting Technical Assistant. David, a resident of Cheshire, is a recent graduate of Marist College with a Bachelor of Science degree in International Business, Business Strategy and a minor in Criminal Justice, Global Business. Prior to joining CIRMA, David worked for United Healthcare as a Rating Technician and Assistant to the Underwriting Division.
Samuel Wilson will be working with Cathy Gambrell, Senior Technical Claims Manager, as a Liability-Auto-Property Claims Representative. Samuel is a resident of Bridgeport, received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration and a minor in Accounting from St. Thomas Aquinas College. Samuel Wilson
CIRMA is located at 545 Long Wharf Drive, New Haven, CT.
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CIVIC AMENITIES Back To The Future
City of Norwich awarded for parks commitment to history
t the end of 2018, the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association Awards Committee (CCAPA) announced that the Uncas Leap Heritage Park project was the recipient of the 2018 Historic Preservation Award. The land was acquired by the City of Norwich in 2010 because of the historical significance to both the Mohegan Tribe that had originally settled the area and the colonists who arrived in the 17th century. Sachem Uncas, for whom the area has been renamed from the previous Indian Leap, had allowed colonists to settle on land that was nine miles square. (Sachem is an honorific or title that means Chief, not a first name.) Because of the link to the city’s heritage, they felt it was the perfect place to create a park to commemorate the long history of the Mohegan, the manufacturing history of the site, and the Battle of the Great Plains which happened between the Mohegans and Narragansett. Per the city’s website, the 1.2 acre site which sits at 196-200 Yantic Street is currently open year round, while additions are being made to include observation decks, walkways, kayak dock, improvements to the pedestrian bridge, and an amphitheater made out of granite blocks. The park has a view of Yantic Falls, and is part of the larger Walk Norwich trails system. The city of Norwich revealed the plans for the project in 2017, which has been in the works for nearly 10 years. The plans for the park show additional lots that
the city is planning on acquiring at 226-230 Yantic Street. Demolition had already taken place on the site to demolish an industrial building that was on a list of dangerous buildings in 2017. The project is being handled by Milone & MacBroom and is estimated to cost up to $2 million dollars to complete. The CCAPA said in their write-up of the award that the additions make the park a significant heritage tourism destination. The state is full of locations that are brimming with history, and projects like the Uncas Leap Heritage Park that honor the past help bring that history into the future.
Like most municipalities, you want grants, you need grants, but you’re not sure how to get grants. Let us help.
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20 | CONNECTICUT TOWN & CITY | MAY 2019
The Municipality of the Bees
A New Britain public arts project will have city buzzing
ormally a swarm of bees would be a cause for concern, but in New Britain, a set of fiberglass bees is part of a new public art installation that’s taking over the city for a project aptly titled Bees Across New Britain. There will be 25 of the buzzing creatures dotted around the city, each standing six feet tall. They were created by local sculptor Craig Frederick while individual artists get to paint their model however they wish. Artists were vetted by the Bees Across New Britain committee, and given a list of ideas to get started with, but design ultimately left for the vision of the artist. After an initial “swarm” in New Britain’s Central Park on May 6, 2019, the bees were relocated to sponsored locations. Sponsors were given some leeway in deciding the locations, but per the application the bee were designed to be outdoors, so interior locations would have to be open to the public. Unlike their living counterparts, these bees will be finished to withstand winter weather so they can maintain their posts for the duration of the project. Bees Across New Britain is a take on the CowParade art project which originated in Zurich, Switzerland. There lions are the symbols of the city, and so those were put on display. It was brought to America as a CowParade, and premiered in Chicago in 1999. From
there the idea exploded with towns fitting the idea to their municipality. Some examples include moose for Bennington, Vermont, crabs in Baltimore, and frogs in Willimantic. In New Britain, the motto is “Industria implet alveare et melle fruitur,” which translates to “Industry fills the hive and enjoys the honey.” In a video promoting Bees Across New Britain, Mayor Erin Stewart alluded to this, saying “Worker bees played a very important role in the history of our city. So what better way to pay tribute to the past and current changes with whimsical bees that will be placed all over our community.” This project is part of the “Experience the New” campaign that was spearheaded by New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart in 2017. Already part of the new marketing includes videos and new branding. The latter is a honeycomb, which makes Bees Across New Britain the perfect complement. Additionally, the bridge over Route 72 was designed to resemble honeycomb, and is called the Beehive Bridge. The bridge will be opened concurrently with the beginning of Bees Across New Britain. Also contributing to the project are the New Britain Department of Public Works and the Greater New Britain Arts Alliance. MAY 2019 | CONNECTICUT TOWN & CITY | 21
EN TE AV
A MIN L R
NEW HAVEN TERMINAL, INC.
The Economic Development section of CT&C is sponsored by New Haven Terminal, Inc. Learn more at: www.nhterminal.com
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ORPORATE
Tax Credit Available For All
Wilton takes steps to bring departments and organizations in the know
owns and cities across the state should know about all the possible sources of fiscal relief offered; the Neighborhood Assistance Act (NAA) Tax Credit Program from the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services, is aimed directly at municipalities and tax exempt organizations. The Town of Wilton announced that they were partaking in this program, putting out a bulletin to all interested community programs. According to the state’s website, the NAA is “designed to provide funding for municipal and tax exempt organizations by providing a corporation business tax credit for businesses who make cash contributions to these entities.” In addition to municipal departments, community programs that qualify include, energy conservation, education, community services, crime prevention, open space acquisition fund, employment and training, child day care facilities, and child care services; giving the NAA a wide berth to be offered to a wide array of municipal programs. The minimum contribution on which credit can be granted is $250 and the maximum tax credit is $150,000 in order to qualify for a tax credit, and under this program, the credit will be 60% of their approved contributions or up to 100% in the case of energy conservation programs. Even though this program is open to tax-exempt organizations as well as municipal agencies, the NAA forms must be submitted
by the participating municipality for approval, and each municipality will have their own guidelines and deadlines for submission. The municipality must have completed submissions sent in by July 1, 2019 for this year. Wilton requested that departments or organizations make the town aware by May 1, 2019 that they intend to participate, and a completed form submitted by May 24, right before the Memorial Day weekend. In their release on the tax credit, Wilton said that “as overseeing municipal agency, the Town of Wilton must 1) complete section IV of
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all NAA-01 forms, 2) hold a public hearing on all program applications,” which will be brought up at the June 3, 2019 Board of Selectman meeting. Once this is done, they only have to meet the July deadline. Approval letters will be mailed out by the Department of Revenue Services. These kinds of tax credits can be useful in every municipality in Connecticut. It’s important to follow Wilton’s lead and get that word out to all departments and organizations in your municipality.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Working With The State Seymour collaborates with the Connecticut Economic Resource Center
spotlight is often shone on collaboration and regionalization on a town and city level, such as when school districts are combined, but just as important is when resources are shared between the state and municipalities. The town of Seymour has made an important step in this direction by partnering with the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC). CERC is a non-profit consulting agency that works on both the business and municipal side with the goal of “helping to improve Connecticut’s economic competitiveness and make the state a better place to live, work, and do business.” They have already worked with more than two-thirds of Connecticut’s municipalities and have previously collaborated with Seymour. In 2016, Seymour commissioned CERC to create a market feasibility study where they assessed the economic development potential of three areas and proposed uses for unique properties after they had surveyed Seymour’s residents and reviewed data and materials already compiled by the town. By working with CERC, they have access to the full organization, and a representative from CERC will
travel to Seymour to work at varying times throughout the week. The Economic Development Director will, according to Seymour’s website, show prospective businesses around town, provide introductions to key people, and set up meetings with town officials to get projects rolling. Another benefit is that CERC already works with business, “from local to global” as they say on their website, “to help them start, expand, or relocate in Connecticut. A property search is found on their website, where businesses can look up possible lots or buildings to move in or build upon. Right now, Seymour has listed the Tri-Town Plaza Shopping Center, complete with concept plans and profile. There are many more examples of towns and cities that work well in cooperation with the state, when municipalities share services with the State Police for communications for example. Seymour’s partnership with the Connecticut Economic Resource Center is a sign that municipalities are ready to not only share services, but to find the best value for their residents, and in this case, to incentivize businesses to call their town home.
MAY 2019 | CONNECTICUT TOWN & CITY | 23
EDUCATION The Education section of CT&C is sponsored by Gateway Community College’s GREAT Center. Learn more at: www.gatewayct.edu/Great-Center
Making Schools A Healthy Place To Learn Middletown invests in restorative practices to make schools welcoming
chool is supposed to be a place where children learn and grow, but the hard truth is that not every child thrives in a school environment. It’s bound to happen that some children will end up in fights or chronically truant from school. For decades, correcting this behavior meant some kind of punishment, whether a rasp on the knuckles from a ruler up to suspension and expulsion. But times change and corporeal punishment is now illegal and some schools are reconsidering punishment altogether. Middletown is now looking into Restorative Practices, where promoting healthy relationships before an incident is more important than what you do afterwards. The phrase restorative practices signifies its goals and aims. The Schott Foundation, which works with school departments and officials around the country in places like Baltimore, Chicago, and Washington D.C., describes it as the “processes that proactively build healthy relationships and a sense of community to prevent and address conflict and wrongdoing.”
believe that students will feel safer coming to class. As the Schott Foundation says in their guidebook to restorative practices, “students who are not in class are, of course, not doing much learning.” And alienating a student by punishing them for something like absenteeism today isn’t going to compel them to come in tomorrow. This is in stark contrast to zero-tolerance schools, which proponents say don’t incentivize a learning environment. A recent study by the Connecticut Voices for Children showed that when teachers had access to a School Resource Officer (SRO), a student was statistically more likely to be referred for arrest. This took on a racial disparity as well, showing that Latino and black children were 4.16 and 3.67 times more likely to be arrested with a SRO.
“When the culture and climate of the school is improved, students become more engaged…”
For Middletown, the role of instituting restorative practices is handed over to the Youth Services Bureau (YSB). Their role is to divert troubled youth from the justice system, which they aim to do by “mobilizing community resources to solve youth problems, promoting positive programs to remedy delinquency breeding conditions, and strengthening existing youth resources and developing new ones.” Cassandra Day looked at the implementation of restorative practices for the Middletown Press, where she is Managing Editor. In part one, she describes the positive results that Justin Carbonella, YSB’s head, got by replacing standard office furniture with a circular table. One of the main focuses of restorative practices is to improve relationships between students and educators, and by eliminating one barrier — a desk — the hope is that it eliminates behavioral barriers. In creating this positive relationship, practitioners
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Starting children out with a criminal record is likely to be detrimental to their growth and education. Restorative practices aims to de-escalate these situations and find conflict-free solutions. Disciplinary disparities decrease when all students are given a chance to succeed, even in the face of aberrant behavior. In Middletown, they seek to get behind the misbehavior to the latent causes of that behavior in the first place. Carbonella, quoted in the Press article, said that trauma, often found at home, can be a factor that inhibits their ability to resolve conflicts and remain calm. In order to break the cycle, all factors of a student’s life must be taken into consideration. The Schott Foundation sums it up saying: “When the culture and climate of the school is improved, students become more engaged, which results in improved attendance, fewer classroom disruptions, higher academic performance, and increased graduation rates.” Middletown is leading the way in their classrooms by using all the tools at their disposal to make it into a healthy and welcoming environment.
EDUCATION Partners In Media
Norwalk Library partners with Connecticut Public for education center
n a partnership with Connecticut Public, the company that runs both Connecticut Public Television and Connecticut Public Radio, the Norwalk Public Library is adding an education and media hub as part of the library’s renovation.
dio and rest of the renovations take place.
This effort has been an ongoing dream of Alex Knopp, former Norwalk Mayor and current President of the Norwalk Library Board of Directors. Back in 2017, after he was first elected to the board, he called for a series of upgrades in a statement posted to NancyOnNorwalk.com.
This is the third partnership in Connecticut Public’s recent history. The first was with the city of Hartford, where they offered a high school curriculum during the day, and adult education at night at their corporate headquarters. They continued at Gateway Community College in New Haven last year, where they air Morning Edition, a popular news broadcast.
“We must continue to enrich the educational program offerings,” he said, “while implementing the modest facility updates needed to keep the offerings attractive and relevant.” According to Current.org, which writes about public media, Connecticut Public had plans to occupy a former bank building in Norwalk, but when those opportunities fell through, the library and the organization saw an opportunity to collaborate and bring the former mayor’s vision into reality. The project is estimated to take three to four years, but Current.org says that Connecticut Public sees no reasons to hold off on the educational aspect of the plans, and they will begin classes this year as the stu-
It is modeled after WGBH’s partnership with the Boston Public Library, which representatives from Norwalk and Connecticut Public toured as the plans were drafted.
While the plans are still at the conceptual level, the plans are moving fast. Figures in the Current.org article say that there was a half-million dollars in funding and grants from the city (per Knopp, the library is a city agency), while Connecticut Public received a $1.5 million state grant, specifically for the Norwalk expansion. In an age when nearly everyone carries around a television/radio/newspaper/magazine/computer in their pockets, it’s important that students stay apprised of the changing media landscape. With this clever partnership between the Norwalk Public Library and Connecticut Public, the city guarantees that its students will have a resource for years to come.
MAY 2019 | CONNECTICUT TOWN & CITY | 25
ENERGY Bloomfield Solar Array Blooms Community solar array a first in Connecticut
n a first for the state of Connecticut, the town of Bloomfield’s Board of Education has partnered with Clean Energy Collective (CEC) and C-TEC Solar to build a 2 megawatt solar array. The energy created from these solar panels will be the first community solar offering, which will allow all local residents, governments, and businesses to choose solar as their energy according to a press release from the town. The 2 megawatt array will provide clean renewable energy to utility customers, and is much more common in other states. Community solar is described as a medium-scale development that provides customers with savings and the ability to support renewable energies. This is beneficial for residents that do want to use solar, but their homes do not receive enough sunlight throughout the day to be feasible, or do not have the money to install them. The Solar Energy Industries Associations (SEIA) has a factsheet on community arrays, saying that there are 43 states with at least one community solar project on-line, with over 1,387 total through 2018. At least 19 states have incentivized these collectives through policy or programs. By their estimation, a single megawatt of solar powers over 150 homes, meaning that the Bloomfield array can power over 300 homes.
Tom Sweeney, the President of Renewables for Clean Energy Collective said “we are excited to launch reservations for our RooflessSolar project in Bloomfield, CT and to be working with the town and Board of Education to expand savings across the community.” The project was developed and will be constructed by C-TEC Solar, a local Bloomfield-based solar contractor, based on a winning bid from the Bloomfield Board of Education. They expect to bring significant savings to the school district, who will be one of the initial customers of this array. “We initiated a rooftop solar program in 2017 for one of our schools,” said William Guzman, Chief Operations Officer for the Bloomfield Board of Education, “but wanted to expand without direct development on school roofs. This venture allowed us to offset our electricity costs, provide local jobs during construction, and enhance student curriculum in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields!” More and more alternative energies are making their way into our towns and cities. It is the wave of the future. When towns work with their board of education and local businesses to pass down savings to their residents, the future looks bright.
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http://ccm-ct.org 26 | CONNECTICUT TOWN & CITY | MAY 2019
The Giving Trees
Municipalities across the state struggle with tree loss
onnecticut certainly does not have the largest forests in America. As a matter of fact, the Tongass National Forest in Alaska is nearly five times bigger than the Nutmeg state as a whole. Despite this, trees are an integral part of the state’s ecosystem, and disease, invasive species, age, and weather are threatening that stasis. All over Connecticut, municipalities are facing a tree depletion crisis.
There are some management trajectories to take. Eversource, for instance, manages trees around their electric lines. The Norwich Bulletin reported in March that the company would be taking care of tree work in Franklin, Lebanon and Colchester throughout Spring and early Summer. This includes taking down hazardous limbs and entire trees that pose a threat to the infrastructure.
One of the primary causes of the destruction of Connecticut’s trees is the Agrilus planipennis, also known as the Emerald Ash Borer. The insect is native to Asia, and its destructive power is in its name: the insect bores into the wood grains of Ash trees, laying eggs between layers of bark. Damage is often difficult to detect until it’s too late. The gypsy moth caterpillar and a host of localized diseases have not helped the situation.
While Eversource will only have to care for trees that line their electric lines, municipalities will have to be responsible for the rest of the trees on public property. Further reporting from the Norwich Bulletin said that Brooklyn spent $70,000 to take down 400 dead or dying trees in fiscal year 2018-19, and a figure that will likely be spent again in fiscal year 2019-20.
Another problem is the aging out of trees. Unlike in thick forests, trees in the hearts of municipalities don’t have natural regrowth cycles. Once they reach a certain age, they become not only more susceptible to disease and infestation, but rot and a host of other common maladies. The problem is exacerbated by poor weather cycles. Since 2000, the state has had extended periods of moderate droughts, reaching Severe and Extreme Drought for a large part of 2016 and 2017 according to the U.S. Drought Monitor map. These conditions too are responsible for frail trees. During storms, these weaker trees are good candidates for broken limbs that can damage a house or a car, or take down power lines. Think of the massive destruction that the rare tornado did to Hamden, especially in the Sleeping Giant area, which took over a year to clean up. Some experts are saying that it will take an entire generation to restore the park to its pre-tornado splendor.
This figure is only covers the cost to remove the trees, not replacement, which is vital to the well-being of towns. The Hartford Courant reported that in addition to the wellknown benefit of filtering pollution out of the air, neighborhoods with trees often have lower crime rates and higher property values. Because of the shade they provide, they cut down on air conditioning costs and heat wave issues. There is even some evidence that there are far fewer crimes in areas with healthy vegetation. But in the same article, they cite that Hartford was spending $500,000 a year to plant approximately 1000 trees. When you do the math out, between the Brooklyn and Hartford figures, it cost $675 to remove and replant a tree. It would cost Brooklyn $540,000 if they replanted every tree they took down. This level of cost is prohibitive, and there have been fewer and fewer options to replenish the landscape. But trees are a necessary part of our ecosphere. Community and businesses will need to be involved in order to reline our streets with trees. Our towns and cities will be rewarded with fresh air, cool shade, and all the incredible benefits of living near trees. MAY 2019 | CONNECTICUT TOWN & CITY | 27
Littering Takes Toll On Roads
Ashford Conservation Commission cleans up for nature and beauty
hat do you do when you notice that debris is piling up in your roads? Do you leave it or just complain about it? For the Ashford Conservation Commission, the answer is you organize a group of interested residents to get out trash bags and take charge of the cleanliness of your town. Over three days in March and April, Loretta Wrobel, Chair of the Ashford Conservation Commission and Pamm Summers, a resident of Ashford, did just that. Loretta told CT&C via email that over the three work days they had collected 112 bags of trash, which they estimate to be 1,680 pounds of trash. “Our goal is to encourage people to get out and take care of their roads and educate the people about the dangerous impact of plastic on our environment,” she told us. Volunteers were given all the accoutrements to safely collect the refuse that collects on the sides of the road including gloves, pick up sticks, and safety vests, and were given the option of cleaning a street of their choosing or participating in group cleanups of highly affected areas. These were provided with a grant from The Last Green Valley, and additional support was given by the Ashford Business Association. It bears being said that the efforts by these civically-minded individuals show a care for nature and the well-being of a town that goes above and beyond, there are some pesky habits that cause the trash to pile up in the first place.
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Of course, the prime suspects are litterers, especially those in vehicles that toss all sorts of things from their cars. This includes cigarette butts, which are the most commonly littered item on earth, accounting for a whopping 38% of all U.S. roadway litter, according to the Keep America Beautiful organization. Additionally, if not properly disposed of, they can be a fire hazard in wooded areas. One tip is to keep an ashtray in the car that can easily be removed from the car and disposed of properly. Drivers should keep a trash bag for all other litter in their car. Additionally, one of the other major culprits of roadside litter is trash or recycling that didn’t make it into the garbage trucks. Making sure that all trash is in bags and that recyclables like paper are properly bundled can prevent much of the scatter that you see. Simple practices like recycling, reuse, and composting will greatly reduce the amount of trash that households throw away each month. “Next year we hope to involve the school, perhaps having the children make posters,” Loretta said, and they are looking to form a committee to ban plastic bags in Ashford. Even in the best of all worlds, debris and litter will still find its way onto our streets. Thankfully there are people out there like Loretta Wrobel and Pamm Summers to help clean up and lead by example.
Trash! Go Pick It Up!
There is no one size fits all to bulk waste pickup
s one CCM staff member put it, no one notices when a municipality’s bulk waste pickup is going well. Towns and cities across the state all manage their waste pickups differently, but providing for such services is necessary for residents. Farmington residents, for instance, can leave their bulk items curbside like regular trash provided that they have trash collection by Waste Material Trucking Company. According to their info page, different trucks will come by throughout the day to pick up tires, appliances and metal items, and mattresses/boxsprings.
mental or safety reasons, for instance motor vehicle batteries, propane tanks, hazardous waste, and paint. Electronics are also not permitted and are subject to e-waste rules and regulations. Other towns require a fee for the first or additional pickups and an appointment to pick up bulk waste. For instance, in the town of East Hartford, residents are required to purchase a permit for two bulky waste pickups which costs $35 or $15 for seniors over the age of 65.
They have some general rules and guidelines for this bulk pickup. First and foremost, since the bulk pickup happens on the same day as regular trash, the pile must be four feet in distance away from your trashcans. Small items should be bundled, boxed, or bagged, and tires must be removed from their rims.
The Town of Hamden suggests considering what you call waste, as the old saying goes, one man’s trash, may be another man’s treasure. Some of these items may be donated to a local Goodwill or Salvation Army where the products can go to a good home. One added benefit is that these donations may be tax deductible.
Acceptable items include large furniture (i.e. couches), appliances with doors removed, and plumbing fixtures. There are many items that are unacceptable in bulk trash as well, including items that belong in regular trash or recycling, and building materials such as lumber, brick, and plywood. Other items have environ-
Since every town is different, it makes sense to get the specific details concerning bulk waste to residents. Most people only think about bulk waste when they have a refrigerator or mattress they need to get rid of, or when they see one sitting on their neighbors curb for a month.
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Grant writing and researching • RFP drafting • Project management Operational reviews • Change implementation • Organizational studies Strategic planning • Finance and budgeting • Purchasing Facilities management • Temporary staffing Contact Andy Merola: 203 498-3056, or firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
MAY 2019 | CONNECTICUT TOWN & CITY | 29
CIVIC AMENITIES A Recipe for Success in North Haven First Selectman Michael Freda speaks with The Municipal Voice
hen many towns and cities across the state are reluctantly raising the property tax to make up for shortfalls from the state funding or unfunded or under-funded mandates are cutting into budgets, North Haven has remained fiscally solvent with a AAA rating. More than that, in a budget announced just the day before the podcast, First Selectman Freda was able to propose a budget that included no increases in tax despite increased debt from bonding on projects coming due. “We’re able to do this by a formula that I was able to take out of my business career,” Selectman Freda said, “Grow the top line revenue, and reinvest the top line revenue back into improvements and maintain the same mill rate.” One of his major successes as First Selectman is due to his ability to plan properly. Looking at the state, one might think that pensions are a problem everywhere, but Selectman Freda had the foresight to make sure that pensions were not a burden on his taxpayers. “We fully fund our pensions, make 100 percent of the ARC, or annual required contribution,” adding “many years I’ve over funded the pension, and the rating agencies like this.” Some of this planning was to go through the investment portfolio with the assistance of finance professionals, and readjusted the investments. Taking a personal look and interest in these portfolios is paying off dividends, literally. “Most people have to return 7.5 percent on these pensions, and below that your ARC goes up,” Selectman Freda noted. “That’s an impact to the taxpayers. The goal is, and should be, to exceed that, and we’re up at 11 percent right now.” Good relationships also help a
First Selectman Michael Freda spoke about the successfully navigating a tumultuous time in Connecticut’s financial history on a recent episode of the Municipal Voice.
town handle expenses. First Selectman Freda discussed how he’s been “very fortunate” to have the relationship he has with the superintendent of school and the boards of education in North Haven. In Freda’s opinion, that’s where you have a collaborative environment to the benefit of everyone. While each town is unique, and there’s no one size fits all success manual, there are some common bonds that affect all towns. CCM’s George Rafael noted that unfunded and under-funded mandates hit all towns pretty equally. One of the suggestions that CCM has come up with is to make it so no new unfunded mandates pass through legislation without twothirds approval. “The hope is that it would force the general assembly to look closely at
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these mandates,” Rafael said, “if a mandate has merit then the majority of the general assembly will support it.” Even further than that, Rafael said that the state has “to determine is it good policy and then who should pay for it, maybe the state should be paying for it if it’s something that impacts everyone across the state.” First Selectman Freda said that there were hundreds that he’d like to see removed. No matter what, a town has to have a plan. There are so many variables that affect a municipalities budget that you need a lot of ideas and a lot of foresight to be successful. First Selectman Michael Freda has been successful in North Haven because of his foresight, even in times of uncertainty like ours.
GOVERNANCE Torrington Is Ready To Go
Two projects and a conference show a city hungry to develop
orrington is looking to bring new development into the city. Projects include over 100 new apartments and a brand new transit hub that would house buses and be a maintenance garage for the state. The first project is an expected development of apartments along the Litchfield Town Line. The Greenbrier Estates subdivision is expected to house 30 apartments in four buildings once approval goes through. The plot of land has been in development since 1987 according to information gleaned from the Litchfield County Times. This development takes over 11 acres of property within Torrington, but there is an additional 2-acre lot that is being included as part of a restitution agreement between the developer and the Army Corps of Engineers. This donation is part of a contiguous 15-acre space that engineer Kenneth Hrica told the Times could be made into a walking trail to link Litchfield and Torrington.
Hendey Machine Co. was founded in 1870 as a partnership between Henry J. Hendey and his brother, Arthur Hendey.
Another project is the rejuvenation of the property at 200 Litchfield Street. The city was awarded a $100,000 brownfield grant to assess and clean up any hazardous or toxic materials from the blighted properties that sit on the land. The property is the Hendey Machine Company and Stone Container Corporation, which were cornerstones of Torringtonâ€™s economy when manufacturing ruled the Connecticut landscape. The plans from the state suggested that the best remediation for the site would be to demolish the buildings completely and build anew. The 10,000 square-foot maintenance garage that is to be built will be owned and designed by the state, with little input from the city, but the project would bring jobs into the area. Some residents, especially those affiliated Torrington Historic Preser-
Former site of the Stone Container Corporation
vation Trust said they would like to see the historically important buildings saved. In their estimation they can see the buildings being renovated in much the same way that many other old factories throughout the state: by turning them into apartments. The two plans are at odds, but it shows an interest in developing the downtown area. The city held a conference in mid-April to discuss this very topic at the aptly named Torrington Downtown Preservation
& Development Conference. Held at the Historic Warner Theatre, they planned a day full of Torrington heritage, and plenty of opportunity to network with businesses looking to invest in the downtown area. Downtown Torrington has two places which are on the National Register of Historic Places, and is also a designated Opportunity Zone. The City is rife with opportunity, and with long gestating plans coming to fruition, Torrington is ready to add to their heritage.
MAY 2019 | CONNECTICUT TOWN & CITY | 31
GOVERNANCE Rooms Available
Winchester makes common sense into law regarding short term rentals
ince its inception in 2008, Airbnb, Inc. has been both boon and liability for homeowners and the municipalities they inhabit. The short-term rental service argues that it brings revenue into towns and cities, but residents argue that they are more trouble than they are worth. Towns like Winchester are trying to balance regulations on the knife’s edge by reaping the revenue created by the service while making sure their residents feel safe in their own homes. For those who are not familiar with Airbnb, the service allows people to rent rooms, apartments, or whole houses directly from homeowners, sometimes at a steep discount from local hotel rates. Both the hosts and the guests are verified and rated based on their stays. Hosts can choose not to allow a guest with many low ratings, and alternatively, guests can choose to stay at places with only the highest level of reviews. Pausing for a second, you can figure out the issue with this system: unless you are a constant user of the app, then you have fewer ratings. Stories abound of baseless mayhem taking place at apartments where an Airbnb was used primarily as a place to host a wild party. That fear is nearly universal amongst Connecticut residents who live in or near places that are popular with the hosting app. The Register Citizen of Torrington went to the Planning and Zoning Commissions where they reported citizens’
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concerns. Prime among them was the safety of short term rentals, with one homeowner claiming errant behavior of short term rental guests at a house next door to his. He says that their actions ranged from just parking in the wrong driveway all the way up to people staring in their windows. Even if this experience was isolated, it’s enough for a municipality to consider regulating the practice. The most recent draft proposal available on Winchester’s website seems to make the issue a matter of common sense for the hosts and guests alike. The primary directive is that the “Short Term Rental unit must be operated in a way that will prevent unreasonable disturbances to nearby residents.” Other regulations include requiring smoke detectors, noise and use restrictions, instructions regarding trash, and where applicable, lake rules. One regulation aimed at stemming rowdy parties limits guests at two per bedroom, excluding children aged five and under. While other towns and cities have outright banned short term rentals, some have not regulated them at all. Winchester tries to balance that line with common sense initiatives aimed at preventing the worst while still bringing in the revenue created by bringing in tourists.
PUBLIC SAFETY The Public Safety section of CT&C is sponsored by Emergency Resource Management. Learn more at: http://ermanagement.com
National Take Back A Success
Easton Police Department help residents get rid of unwanted Rx drugs
n April 27, Easton Police participated in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which is nationally sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration. CT&C spoke with Captain Richard Doyle of Easton Police Department who says that they have been participating in the Take-Back day for nearly a decade. They set up at Samuel Staples Elementary School and oversaw the collection of unused or expired prescription medications that they no longer wanted in their house. According to their Facebook post, after the medication was collected, it was handed over to the DEA and properly destroyed. Take-back days are not only a good method to ensure that you are not taking expired medication, but they also are an important part in the fight against drug abuse. “The benefit is we’re moving unwanted prescription drugs from people’s houses for illicit uses,” Captain Doyle said, “and that’s an environmental issue.” He explained that if you flush pills or drugs down the drain, there’s a chance that they can end up in the water system. Per the DEA’s website, over 6 million Americans have misused controlled prescription drugs, with the majority of the abused drugs coming from friends or family. They call this an easy way to prevent drug
addiction and overdose deaths. National Take-Back Day happens twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. In October of 2018, there were 61 locations in Connecticut that participated in Take-Back Day, and they collected 4,792 pounds of prescriptions, out of a total of 914,236 pounds. Since its inception, Take-Back day has collected nearly 11 million pounds of expired or unused medications. Captain Doyle said that the October event was a success, that even with poor weather, they still had about 90 pounds of unwanted medications, or about two full trashbags.
He also said that for people’s safety, or even peace of mind, they can remove the labels from their prescriptions. Cadets help man the events, directing traffic and staffing the booth. This event occurred simultaneously with the Easton EMS bottle and can drive, and the Clean Energy & Environment Task Force electronics recycling event. For those that have missed the Spring collection day, you can find year-round drug disposal days by going to deatakeback.com.
MAY 2019 | CONNECTICUT TOWN & CITY | 33
PUBLIC SAFETY Station to Station
A nationwide police shortage hits home
ou get into work at eight in the morning, you take your lunch at noon, and by 3:00 you start casually glancing at the clock, looking forward to quittin’ time. But for many police officers on the job, they wouldn’t be leaving at 4:00, or 5:00, or even 6:00; they’d be starting their second shift of eight hours, looking forward to midnight. At police stations across the nation, officers are being showered with overtime to cover a police shortage that seems to get worse every year. Overtime is just one of the side-effects of this shortage, but the main questions are: why is there a shortage and what can be done to solve it? The police shortage is best expressed in terms of budgeted resources. In Connecticut, some towns are down just a handful of police officers due to injuries or military duty. The shortage is felt more acutely in cities like New Haven where the number is down to under 400 currently staffed positions compared to the 495 budgeted positions (some outlets count officers in the academy as part of the staffed positions, even if they are not currently on the job). This is by no means to single out New Haven; the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), which looks at employment statistics found that in general-purpose law enforcement agencies across the country, the number of full-time sworn officers dropped from just under 725,000 to about 700,000 in the three years between 2013 and 2016. What’s more, these figures are in direct contrast to population growth. The BJS estimated that there were 2.42 officers per 1,000 residents in 1997, falling down to 2.17 by 2016. One obvious repercussion is the immediate lack of police officers to fill roles. It was from the Danbury News Times that we learned that some officers were being asked to cover 16-hour shifts. Though this overtime is welcomed by some, it can have deleterious effects. On-the-job burnout is real, and according to studies done at Ohio State University, “job schedules with long working hours are not more risky merely because they are concentrated in inherently hazardous industries or occupations.” Another pitfall from this shortage is taking place in West Haven, where the city is opting to pull a school resource officer from Bailey Middle School to be placed back on the beat. While their shortage is not as severe as other municipalities, hard decisions like this are being made every day. So where did all the cops go? Answers have been as disparate as their sources — some say it’s the salary or pensions, some say it’s the job market, some blame the media — but none fit the one-size-fits-all answer that would make this an easy problem to solve.
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In one case, NPR describes the problem as “money — evident in the department’s worn-out squad cars, one of which has a rust hole in the floorboard that has been patched with an old license plate.” Connecticut does pay its police officers well. Based on information from Data USA, the state pays higher-than-average wages in every tract (which this site splits into 12 distinct areas called Public Use Microdata Areas, also known as PUMAs). The average wage goes from $65,415 to $102,982, in PUMAs surrounding the New London area. Bridgeport, which roughly estimates the average pay in Connecticut, pays more than 80 percent of PUMAs in the entire country. But it’s also true that a dollar in Connecticut doesn’t go nearly as far as a dollar in other states. In the same NPR report, they bring up lateral hiring, more familiarly known as poaching. In one case, the Seattle Police Department put up a billboard in Indi-
PUBLIC SAFETY anapolis to promote “its interest in hiring away local cops.” Unfortunately, poaching does not always look so obvious or intentional. In fact, many police departments are not actively poaching, but due to the healthy job market recruits can pursue the best employment packages — from higher salaries to traditional pensions rather than 401Ks. Back in West Haven, many cops have asked the city to return to a traditional pension to keep the force numbers up. And it’s hard to fault one police force for offering what it believes is fair compensation for a difficult career. One unwritten cost of poaching officers, wittingly or unwittingly, is that the initial hiring municipality often incurs the cost of training new officers. In 2015, the Connecticut General Assembly passed a measure to reimburse towns and cities for officers that have left within two years of their certification. New Haven Assistant Chief Racheal Cain submitted testimony to state legislators asking that time frame be increased from two years to five, citing one officer who resigned on day 732. More than this, millennials have a strong preference for jobs that “make a difference.” A Gallup poll showed results suggesting that the generation shops around for “the jobs that best align with their needs and life goals,” looking for opportunities to learn and grow, but also a general acceptance of the individual and the diversity of communities they come from. Police across the country are now allowed to have tattoos and wear jewelry, while many forces are looking less critically at past substance use as marijuana, medical or recreational, becomes the norm in everyday life. Quoted in the NPR piece, Deputy Chief Valerie Cunningham of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police believes that “the recruiting crunch is pushing departments to cater more to young Americans’ preference for community policing, which she sees as the direction departments should be going in.” New Haven had been nationally recognized as a leader in community policing, primarily under the leadership of former Chief of Police Dean Esserman. It was his goal for the community to recognize the cops that patrolled their neighborhoods. Quoted at length in an article for The Atlantic, Esserman relays a story about a rookie officer who was told about a crime committed when he first started walking the beat. The incredulous rookie asks the citizen, “Why didn’t you tell me then?” To which she replies, “Because I didn’t know you then.” This anecdote reveals not just Esserman’s philosophy of policing, but the view that not everyone sees police the same. Over the last decade, stretching back to the early ’90s, a small minority of cops have created outsized media frenzies due to their bad behavior. Many people feel the undue attention has caused the cultur-
al cache of police officer to go down in the collective imagination. Because of the multitude of causes, it’s hard to see what a solution might look like to solve a nationwide shortage of officers. In a Hartford Courant article on the subject, one trooper suggests that because of media, people — and critically, young people — misunderstand what police work is. A large part of the solution will be reminding people of the cause and purpose of the local police force — to protect and serve. One way to do this is to have the police force begin to look like the communities they serve. From a small sample of departments, the Hartford Courant showed that only about 13% of the force were minorities, and fewer than 10% were women. According to the Census Bureau, minorities make up 33% of Connecticut’s population, and women are more than 50%. Towns like Manchester aim to end this disparity by offering rolling sign-ups. Hamden actively seeks out minority applicants that look more like their community to help end troubling practices like the racial disparity in vehicle stops. One idea is to simply lower the budgeted number of cops. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, this idea has a method in its madness. With a lower budgeted number of cops, you can give out modest increases in pay, hoping to retain the police force you have instead of seeing them move to other towns. The major tenet of community policing is getting the community to know the police in their neighborhood suggesting that retaining current officers is just as important as hiring new ones. And more cops does not necessarily mean less crime. According to the FBI, there were 3.9 violent crimes per 1,000 population in 1997; with fewer police officers on the force there were only 2.3 violent crimes in 2016. This is also true of property crimes, which went from 3.5 per 1,000 to 1.8. As a matter of fact, the rates in the country have been in a decline since 1991. This would not solve the matter of 16-hour shifts, mushrooming overtime pay, and on-the-job burnout, which are all symptoms of the police shortage. Nor does it deal with poaching, again either wittingly or unwittingly, which disrupts the ability of the police or the citizens to form a community bond — an essential partnership that keeps our municipalities safe. Truly at the heart of the matter is the safety of the residents in this state. Police are an important part of that safety, and it’s disconcerting to see an honored position see such a drop in its ability to recruit in the numbers it used to. There will be no one solution to this problem, and it might take time, but the police shortage is a problem worth solving.
MAY 2019 | CONNECTICUT TOWN & CITY | 35
SOCIAL WELFARE Their One Desire
North Branford Police Department makes finals of Lip Sync to the Rescue
he music of the Backstreet Boys came to define the millennium as the premier boy band of the Y2K era. Their adoring fans, kids who were in their teens around the turn of the century, have grown up. Someone who was 13 when their massive hit song “I Want It That Way” was released would be 33 years old today. Some of those kids grew up to be cops, and when CBS announced Lip Sync to the Rescue, the North Branford Police Department chose it as their first song. Lip Sync to the Rescue was inspired by the popular social media hashtag, #LipSyncChallenge. The network decided to capitalize on the popularity of police, sheriffs, fire department, and EMTs posting these videos into what they call “an interactive countdown special where viewers vote for their favorite video of performances featuring first responders channeling their inner pop stars and lip-syncing to hit music.” The special, which sounds reminiscent of Total Request Live, another artefact of millennial nostalgia, will be hosted by Cedric the Entertainer on the CBS Network later this year. The North Branford team’s video has made it to the final 30 clips, along with departments from around the country, and even in Canada. No other department in Connecticut made it into the finals, with only one other department in the Northeast as competition. The video starts in a field of sunflowers to the Backstreet Boys’ indelible hit, followed up by tracks by Luke Bryan, Pharrell, LMFAO, and The Foundations, with their classic track “Build Me Up Buttercup.” Under the iconic open white button up that found its way into
MUNICIPAL BUSINESS ASSOCIATE GOLD
many music videos for these boy bands, five officers are still wearing their patrol uniforms. For Luke Bryan, a country star, they bring out the big trucks and even some tractor trailers while they write mock tickets (although they do seem to litter the ripped up ticket, which might merit a ticket of its own). Midway through they break out the fire departments, a carnival, and end the video with fireworks. It’s no wonder that the talent scouts at CBS featured them as finalists. They are asking for your help as final voting is going on now. Visiting www.cbs.com/shows/lip-sync-to-therescue/vote/, you can vote as often as you’d like to get them into the top ten. The first voting window ends on or about 12:00 p.m. pacific time on September 1, 2019. If they make it, the officers will be flown out to Los Angeles to appear on the special. With any luck they will get it their way.
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CCM appreciates their support and commitment to CCM and its members. 36 | CONNECTICUT TOWN & CITY | MAY 2019
SOCIAL WELFARE The City And Its Newspaper The relationship between paper and city explored in Cities Project
he Hartford Courant, the CT Mirror, Connecticut Public Radio, Hartford Business Journal, the eight Hearst daily newspapers, the Waterbury Republican-American, and Purple States are collaborating on a project known as the The Cities Project. Over the course of several months, these newspapers and news outlets are going to be highlighting the Connecticut cities, “renewal efforts of the past and present, examining what worked and what didn’t.” They will be writing stories about “tax inequities, zoning, transportation, and others, and look for ways to overcome them.” CT&C spoke with Tom Condon of the CT Mirror, who said that this unprecedented collaboration between different newspapers is a combination of two principals: solutions journalism and the need to cover cities. This is not an attempt to “reflect pejoratively” on cities, but to put together ideas from around the country, where economic plight and the challenge of what they call “inclusive recovery” has hit towns like Pittsburgh and Baltimore as well as Hartford and New Haven. Journalists from across the state recognize that struggling areas have relied on the regressive property tax, and the disastrous effects of being able to raise funds through only one source. Newspapers share a symbiotic relationship with the cities and towns that they dwell in. The Hartford Courant has been continually publishing in the state since 1764, which makes it the oldest continuously published newspaper in the United States. The first article in the first issue was a defense of the local paper: “Of all the arts which have been introduced amongst mankind, for the civilizing human-nature, and rendering life agreeable and happy, none appear of greater advantage than that of printing: for hereby the greatest geniuses of all ages, and nations, live and speak for the benefit of future generations.” The problem is the fact that online aggregation of newspapers has forced many newspapers closed over the last twenty to thirty years. In fact, Connecticut is the only state with more than one newspaper per county according to a study done by the Columbia
Journalism Review (CJR) for their Spring 2017 issue. Only a handful of states have at least one newspaper per county, and states like Kansas and Texas are veritable news deserts. By their estimation, the state of local journalism is in “dire shape.” From the article “In Search of a Local News Solution,” the CJR’s Editor-in-Chief and Publisher Kyle Pope says: “Pick your metric — numbers of reporters, newspapers, readers — and nearly all the trendlines veer downhill.” Condon quoted Thomas Jefferson who was famous for saying on the subject, “were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” The latter part of his sentiment is that everyone should receive be capable of reading the newspaper. One of the greatest acts of citizenship, according to Condon, is subscribing to the local newspaper. The Cities Project almost works in reverse, our newspapers are subscribing to our cities and their citizens. This important relationship was celebrated in centuries past, and hopefully will in centuries future.
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TECHNOLOGY The Technology section of CT&C is sponsored by Digital BackOffice. Learn more at: www.digitalbackoffice.com
Drones Up For Debate
Police in Hartford ask about drone use in city
hey aren’t birds. They aren’t planes. But drones might be fulfilling some of Superman’s crime fighting duties. The Hartford Police Department is looking into the use of the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to track and pursue vehicles or to see into areas before sending officers in. There are many areas where this technology can be helpful, but the question remains if the surveillance benefits outweigh concerns. Drones are not a new technology, having been in use since the mid-20th century, but miniaturization and modern connectivity have made modern versions much more advanced and mobile. One higher market quadcopter Drone, The DJI Mavic 2, takes full 12 megapixel photos and 4K high definition video, and is sold on the open market for private use, if you wanted to spend $1,499.99. While the technology has improved, the obvious uses for them has increased. Especially when it comes to the camera. This now-standard feature allows you to get a bird’s eye view of an area. This can be very useful to police officers who have a need to surveil a territory. This is especially true of car chases. There have been calls for police departments to change or alter their pursuit policies in light of crashes. The feeling is that without a cop tailing a car, the suspect will be less likely to engage in unsafe driving. With a drone, a law enforcement official can quietly pursue a car from above as they are far less noticeable than a helicopter. Another anecdote from the Connecticut Post had Westport police using a drone to look deep into vegetation to see if they could spot teens who had stolen an SUV. UAVs would work even in search and rescue operations, because they could scan a territory much quicker than even a group of volunteers can. And they could also be useful in fire or hazard situations where an unstable roof is unsafe to climb onto. But the idea of drone surveillance is not a welcome idea to everyone. Airports are especially leery of drones. There are
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many rules and regulations concerning the use of drones, state employees will have to follow Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) rule. They must be registered with the FAA, and affix that registration directly on the drone. They can only be operated during daylight hours and must always be in the visual line of sight of operators. There have been instances where drones have completely shut down even large airports like Gatwick in London. Others are afraid of face recognition technology being used in concert with drones. Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union say that this will infringe upon first amendment rights to freedom of assembly during peaceful protests. Amazon has been working on such software, meaning that this is truly a possibility in our modern age. This issue will continue to be discussed as the technology becomes more accessible and affordable. Amazon has also been working on drone deliveries, meaning that one day our skies might be populated with UAVs in much the same way our streets are with cars.
TECHNOLOGY CT Cities Make Major League Tech companies make CT cities their home
here were many financial analysts who, up until recently, had dour prospects for the state of Connecticut. One economist from the Office of Policy and Management went so far as to say that Connecticut’s economic woes can be tied to the fact that the state doesn’t have a major city. But just a year later, our cities may be in a league of their own. It seems as if every city in Connecticut has had some good news about businesses coming into town. New Britain, Waterbury, and Hartford have all had tech companies make their home in Connecticut or expand their footprint. In fact, Homes.com labeled Hartford as one of the 10 best cities for the tech loving millennials. But the city that has seen the greatest investment is New Haven. Quarter one filings were just released by the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, and Hearst
Connecticut Media tracked the results, showing that “Connecticut companies reported raising $109 million in the aggregate, more than five times what they secured in the first quarter of 2018.” Based on their number crunching, New Haven accounted for more than half of the state’s funding. Much of this was led by biotech firms like Kleo Pharmaceuticals, which is working on a cancer treatment. This success will certainly draw other tech companies to the area. One such company is BioXcel Therapeutics who has recently made its home in the same building complex as the CCM offices. They use computing power to reconfigure already existing compounds into new treatments, which they hope will lead to breakthroughs in cancer treatments, as well as a host of other diseases.
The CEO Vimal Mehta recently spoke to the New Haven Independent, saying that despite having offices at a manufacturing facility in Philadelphia, they wanted BioXcel “to be easily accessible to a lot of people who are investors, analysts, partners who travel between New York City and Boston.” Overall, on the backs of innovative tech, health care, and education (with the three often being interconnected) organizations, New Haven has recovered 139% of jobs lost during the 2008 recession. While economists in our own government were saying cities were down for the count, New Haven and the rest of Connecticut’s cities were hard at work showing their worth. There is still much work to do to revive Connecticut as a whole, but hopefully economists won’t count out our cities before they’ve had the chance to prove them wrong.
MAY 2019 | CONNECTICUT TOWN & CITY | 39
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