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CT Government Weekly Rundown—September 16

  • Sep 16, 2013
  • Alexandra Forrester

House Speaker To Revive Debate on Car Tax, Municipal Tax Reform

Connecticut House Speaker Brendan Sharkey announced Thursday that the upcoming 2014 legislative session will once again address municipal property tax reform.  Last session, municipal leaders shot down Sharkey’s proposal to standardize and phase out local property taxes on cars, arguing municipalities need the tax revenue.  Municipal leaders have indicated they may once again object to a phase-out of the tax.   Sharkey stressed the importance of increasing local government efficiency to make up for the lost revenue, and plans to re-launch the legislature’s Municipal Opportunities and Regional Efficiencies (MORE) Commission to identify savings opportunities.  The Connecticut Council of Municipalities has noted that one driver of Connecticut’s high local property taxes, on cars in otherwise, is the large number of unfunded municipal mandates – i.e. costly things that the state government requires localities to do, without providing them the resources do them.

What it means for you: Connecticut is one of two states in the nation to have a car tax that is not part of a broader tangible personal property tax, and the only one to have the magnitude of the tax vary by locality. Is this a good way for Connecticut to stand out? Tax specialists say no.  But it does seem odd for state government to denounce high local taxes while simultaneously mandating local government spending.   

Audit of Connecticut’s Community Colleges Finds Deficiencies

An auditor’s report for the Connecticut Community colleges released on Wednesday found “significant deficiencies” in the oversight of finances at the colleges.  Issues the report cited included improper controls over school inventory, failing to follow proper notice and bidding procedures for large purchases and contracts, and paying part-time instructors for classes that were cancelled.  The report’s author characterized the missteps as “small on their face, but we're looking at protecting controls that may lead to bigger losses of … resources."  The audit looked at Fiscal Years 2010-2011, when the community college system had its own board of trustees.  That board has since been merged with the board for the state’s regional colleges.  You can read the full audit report here.

What it means for you: The dollar amounts at issue in the identified missteps represent a small portion of colleges’ budgets, but any time taxpayer money is not properly managed it should be a matter of public concern.

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